“Aleppo… Mon Amour”
A hospital destroyed in a bombing raid – soon forgotten.
In the old quarter of Aleppo
A flickering festoon of broken bulbs
And blasted bunting surrounds the souk
Within the cables’ crackling sparking
A whispering can be heard,
In the third cut of the night
The silence of darkness
Is rent by a mother’s cry
As she tenderly wipes dust from the faces
Of her husband, father, new born child
Found in the rubble of the kitchen
Of the house where they once lived.
A husband finds his wife
Clutching her son to her breast in death,
Tight against white phosphorous rain
The gnawing burning
Too quick, too hot to flee.
A barrel bomb crater in Tilel Street
filled by a ruptured water main
Becomes a lido where
Child survivors of last night’s raids
Splash themselves cool
Against the heat of the heat.
Some shoot marbles
At spent bullet skittles
Songs of praise and supplication
Ascend to paradise
Against the incoming mortar storm
Smashing marble pavements
Mosques, basilicas, hamams
To common dust.
One child speaks her dream of freedom
She does not know what freedom means
She expects it to be something beautiful.
This one wants her father back
She waves her arm
“He has gone away”
She longs to hug him
He has died.
Her face twitches with grief
She has forgotten how to cry.
A man picks oranges from a courtyard tree
A child’s dress flutters on a branch
Where doves once perched
He fills his bag and carefully treads
Through the shards
Stepping around the blood
Redding a toddler’s first shoe.
A dog gnaws at a bone
Michel Abdou Youssef,
Tends to the needs of the senile
In the Mar Elias sanctuary for the elderly,
He is the self appointed janitor, nurse.
Michel is only fifty three but has seen too much,
Through cigarettes and suffering
He looks much older
He never quite made fifty four,