Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It Could Have Been

it could have been

by Clare Shaw

Ali, son of Abdul. 16 months.
Rocket on house, Sadr City 16.5.2009.

Ali, but for some detail of history,
this day could have been yours.
It could have been you this morning,
stood at the end of your bed,
eyes still shut, arms held up for your mother,
who makes sun and all things possible,
who could, little Ali, be me.

Tony Edward Shiol, 5 years.
Kidnapped, found strangled, Shikan 12.05.2009.

If God had sneezed or been somehow distracted.
If that ray of light had shifted
and you had landed
with that small, metallic thrill of conception
as I walked down Euston Road,

then this could have been your morning.
It could have been me inhaling
your breath straight from sleep,
the smell of hot lake and woodsmoke, could
my tired arm under your neck.

Unnamed baby son of Haider Tariq Sain.
Car bomb, Nawab Street, Baghdad 7.04.2009.

It could have been you
shouting "carry"
at the far top stair of my stairs -

hello stairs
hello breakfast

- your feet in these shoes
which do not contain ants;

Unnamed daughter of Captain Saada Mohammed Ali.
Roadside bomb, Fallujah 20.4.2009.

biting soap
which smells good
but does not taste; watching
the unsteady wonder of bubbles;
throwing water up into the light.

Unnamed child of Haidar, male, aged 4.
Suicide bomber, Baghdad 4.1.2009.

then swimming:
your body held out in my hands;
the pear-shaped
weight of your head
safe away from the pool's sharp side

Sa'adiya Saddam, aged 8, female.
Shot dead by USA forces. Afak, 7/8 Feb, 2009.

It could have been me on that street
with you in my hands
and my hands red and wet
and my face is a shriek
and my voice is a house all on fire

But for geography,
but for biology,
but for the way
things happen,
it could have been

Unnamed female baby of the Abdul-Monim family.
Shot dead, Balal Ruz 22.1.2009.

you falling,
you holding your hand up for kissing.

Posted over on Guardian, UK

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