By Bill Cotter
Suffer little children to come unto me: for such is the kingdom of heaven.
The sky sickens
And fuses darkness, semi-light and shadow
Into one corrosive, creeping grey.
Belly deep and distant, cannons cough among the hills.
But, she neither hears nor cares.
Seated, grey and anonymous among the scattered bricks
And bent above a bundle that stirs, settles and stirs again,
Weakly, weakly and ever more weakly.
She is, it seems, iconography’s gift,
The eternal mother, sketched, framed, sculpted,
Recognized and lauded through the centuries.
The eternal flame of hope.
But, her stillness is the stillness of despair.
The minute arm struggling to reach her breast
Has no more strength than the arm of a spider.
The tears on his face are slow scribbles of wet dust.
And his parched, paper thin lips will find no sustenance.
Her breasts are dry, withered as old rags.
Now the curled, delicate fingers slow, stop
And, in the broken, silent street,
A mother sits, shrouding her dead child.
Image by Mike Labrum