Ashen Land (For Syria)

Ashen Land
(For Syria)

The only offspring left calls from the eaves.
Some houses have a hundred hollow wounds,
and hamlets of a dozen centuries
surrender to contending winds their rooms.

The olive-trees stretch out their silver leaves
like angels’ feathers in a cry for peace.
Where is the comfort for a bird that grieves,
the peace for ashen land? Is it beneath?

It is beneath the nettles and the shards,
beneath the venom seeped into the field;
it is above the silver heaps of stars,
seed of unimaginable yield.

Christina Egan © 2016

Olive grove, trunks and tree-tops silvery grey, like ashes.Photograph: ‘Olivenbäume in Umbrien’ by Adrian Michael.

I found this marvellous illustration on Wikimedia Commons long after I wrote the poem. I had not even thought of the silver bark and leaves resembling ashes…

In the past few years, millions of Syrians have lost their homes and possessions, or their jobs or studies, or their health or their limbs, or their loved ones or their own lives. The national liberation movement has turned into an apparently bottomless civil war, a literally insane religious war, and a vicarious war of outside powers. This conflict will change the face of the Near East and the face of Europe. Meanwhile, the suffering continues.

Let us pray for peace in Syria. All together.

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