By Anita Patel
How many borders will you cross to reach this land?
How many doors will you close – forever?
How many gardens will be left untended?
How cooking pots burnt dry
on ashen stoves?
How many garments strewn on floors – discarded?
How many games abandoned? How many loaves
wasted – crumbling into dust?
How many books tossed aside –
pages tattered and set loose on the wind?
How many songs unsung, stories untold,
conversations unfinished, promises unmade,
mouths unkissed, fingers untangled?
How many footprints washed away?
How many hopes broken, hearts fallen,
dreams dashed? How many streets left empty
of laughter and bustle? How many children lost?
How many borders will you cross?
How many miles of road and desert, barbed wire,
rail track, forest and seas seasoned with tears?
How many babies carried on shoulders and backs
and heads? How many lives toted in boxes and sacks?
How many dead weights?
How many times will you yearn for water – just
a sip? How many times will you beg for scraps to
place between the lips of a fading child?
How many words shouted in unknown syllables?
How many gunshots? How many howls of despair?
How many moons and mournings
and bomb peppered nights and small cold hands
and eyes that will never see sunshine again?
How many desperate wishes? How
many sobs? How many human faces?
And when you get here – will they understand
how many borders you had to cross to reach this land?
Artwork by Kathryn Lamont.