2017 winner

Syrian doves croon above my head

their call cries in my eyes.

I’m trying to design a country

that will go with my poetry

and not get in the way when I’m thinking,

where soldiers don’t walk over my face.

I’m trying to design a country

which will be worthy of me if I’m ever a poet

and make allowances if I burst into tears.

I’m trying to design a City

of Love, Peace, Concord and Virtue,

free of mess, war, wreckage and misery.

 

*

Oh Syria, my love

I hear your moaning

in the cries of the doves.

I hear your screaming cry.

I left your land and merciful soil

And your fragrance of jasmine

My wing is broken like your wing.

 

*

I am from Syria

From a land where people pick up a discarded piece of bread

So that it does not get trampled on

From a place where a mother teaches her son not to step on an ant at the end of the day.

From a place where a teenager hides his cigarette from his old brother out of respect.

From a place where old ladies would water jasmine trees at dawn.

From the neighbours’ coffee in the morning

From: after you, aunt; as you wish, uncle; with pleasure, sister…

From a place which endured, which waited, which is still waiting for relief.

 

*

Syria.

I will not write poetry for anyone else.

 

*

Can anyone teach me

how to make a homeland?

Heartfelt thanks if you can,

heartiest thanks,

from the house-sparrows,

the apple-trees of Syria,

and yours very sincerely.

Lament for Syria

by Amineh Abou Kerech

Copyright © 2019 Betjeman Poetry Prize   |  All Rights Reserved  |  Charity registration number 1137579

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