After Qana – July 30th 2006

by Seni Seneviratne

Fifty-four civilians, mostly children killed in an Israeli air-strike on a village in South Lebanon

I saw the lunchtime news and now

my arms ache with the dead weight of children whose bodies
one by one, out of the rubble, I have not carried.

My fingers clench against one shoulder and under the bent knees
of a dead girl whose body in pink pyjamas, I have not lifted –

her head thrown back, her eyes closed against the dust –
whose cold hand against my chest, I have not felt.

Despair lands like a bloated pigeon on the acacia tree,
drags down delicate branches, scatters the leaves;

hope disappears over my garden wall like a dragonfly,
as the leaves of the Virginia creeper turn red too soon

and underneath the trellis where the jasmine creeps,
the buddlea drips with purple tears and the butterflies don’t care.


Previously published in:

Wild Cinnamon and Winter Skin, Peepal Tree Press, 2007.

Red, Contemporary Black British Poetry; ed. K. Dawes, Peepal Tree Press, 2009.


Seni Seneviratne is a writer, singer, photographer, and performer. She was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, to an English mother and a Sri Lankan father. Her poetry and prose are published in the UK, Denmark, Canada and South Africa. Wild Cinnamon and Winter Skin is her first poetry collection.