I don’t know what to say about what’s happening in Syria. This is all I can say. Condolences feel thin. Like many, I feel helpless seeing Omran Daqneesh. As my friend Anne said, “He could be my son. He could be any one of our sons. He belongs to all of us.” What terrible parents we’ve been.
Today I watched the sparrows fighting
unmolested by notions of peace.
In thickets feathers flurry, arrayed
wings and beaks—midflight battle.
Pirouettes of competitive exclusion.
They play and fight in a war for territory.
A Cooper’s hawk honed in, dove, plucked one
in steel talons. It stole away to feast on viscera.
Aleppo. The phalanx.
drive the demos.
Genuflect in fealty in polis.
Yeterday there was a boy. He’s not a boy.
His name—we have to say his name to make
his name familiar and make him family.
His name is
Say it now.
Say it with me.
Now. Right now. Today at the latest, hold your
child and wipe the dust, blood, and sweat of play
from their eyes, elbows, and hair and hope that
you rub the dust, blood, and sweat of play from
them every day.
Omran stared at me today through a screen.
The blood around his eyes. Those are maps, the scarred territory.
His body and clothes are bathed in ash, in dust. It’s the
dust of how many who have gone, the
dust of murders and neglects and buildings and visions. It’s the
dust the masters of war have bathed Omran in.
He should be dusting off a soccer ball or
harassing his brothers and sisters or
napping or falling off of a swing or learning how to
fold his socks or reading stories or…something.
Instead Omra is there,
And I am here.
He is there. I am
here. He is there. I
am here. He is there.
I am here. He is
there. I am here. He
is there. I am here,
fat in the empire that could feed all the sparrows.
Omran, I pray you find a playground, where play is play.
where you may frolic, covered not by the dust, blood, and sweat
of annihilation, but by of play,
unmolested by notions of war.
How pitiful are these prayers?
How pitiful. How useless.