Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Because they died of cold . . . (Poem)

I wrote the poem that follows a few days after the news article referenced was published. The story was, and remains, haunting. Because those who died deserve to be remembered.

The piece, sourced in the headlined article, can be read as two poems that ultimately come together. 


Because they died of cold . . .

Frozen on a snowy mountain
How 7 years of war ended for 15 Syrian refugees
~ The Washington Post, February 6, 2018

Because they wanted only to escape

               The elderly were the first to fall.

And could not go by sea.

               The ground was hard.

Because they were a mother, sister, wife

               The guide moved on,

Three daughters and a son

               His journey seven hours from Jdaidit Yabws.

Grandchildren, nieces, a sister-in-law

          Their price, per person: paid.

Because the mountain lifted before them.

               The women, behind, tired.

Because they wore plastic sandals

               The children did not keep up,

Because Lebanon meant more than risk

               Lay down in wind and cold—

Disguised as death's own face.

               A bush of thorns one's bed.

                       A cot of snow another's cover.

Because Shihab slipped and cracked his ribs

               Sarah, 3, in his arms—

And Beshayer slept, her cheek frostbitten

               Life-less? He could not say.

Because the bottom of the mountain was far

          The miracle and the milestone: Some of them lived.

Because this is a story of fifteen Syrians

          Out of hundreds of thousands gone unnamed

Let us call them Hasba, Mishan, Abu Hashish, Yasser, Abed

          Amal, Mohammed, Goufran, Hanan.

2017 Maureen E. Doallas

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