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.