after Zalmai's photograph of Ali*
Read it any way you like
but don't miss the hint
of a smile where fear, too,
rises like Iraq's mountains,
even after you've left them
behind. After the mountains
there are desert, broad plains,
and rivers finally giving way
to the sea that refuses to turn
you back toward what is lost.
You spend the night in a tent
near a village called Roszke,
its gun-staffed border of razor
wire the one thing holding you
up. Well, that, and your wait
for the bus and the queue for
food and the uncle who is gone
from your side. When your uncle
is all you have left and it is cold
and raining, food in your hand
naturally goes uneaten, and you
don't pretend a boy won't cry.
Ali's uncle doesn't.
A man with a camera never does.
2016 © Maureen E. Doallas
* When I look at this refugee boy, I see myself. ~ Zalmai, a professional photographer whose moving picture of the refugee boy Ali, who was in line for food when he became separated from his uncle, was taken in 2015.
Zalmai's film with Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch, Desperate Journey, was screened this March at the Human Rights Film Festival in London. (See video below.)