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After Qana – July 30th 2006

by Seni Seneviratne

Fifty-four civilians, mostly children killed in an Israeli air-strike on a village in South Lebanon

  • I saw the lunchtime news and now
  • my arms ache with the dead weight of children whose bodies
  • one by one, out of the rubble, I have not carried.
  • My fingers clench against one shoulder and under the bent knees
  • of a dead girl whose body in pink pyjamas, I have not lifted -
  • her head thrown back, her eyes closed against the dust -
  • whose cold hand against my chest, I have not felt.
  • Despair lands like a bloated pigeon on the acacia tree,
  • drags down delicate branches, scatters the leaves;
  • hope disappears over my garden wall like a dragonfly,
  • as the leaves of the Virginia creeper turn red too soon
  • and underneath the trellis where the jasmine creeps,
  • the buddlea drips with purple tears and the butterflies don’t care.

Previously published in:

  1. Wild Cinnamon and Winter Skin, Peepal Tree Press, 2007.
  2. Red, Contemporary Black British Poetry; ed. K. Dawes, Peepal Tree Press, 2009.
  1. Also in this issue, an interview with Seni Seneviratne:
  2. Living the Question: An Interview with Seni Seneviratne

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