I am asked where I stand, as a test, as a demand
to take sides, to show my true colours, who I am
in the fight over words, over whose atrocities are worse
whose hurt is more deep, whose mothers weep
more loudly, whose cries are heard more widely
in the forest of press releases and international appeals.
It has to be the one rather than the other, for you cannot
mourn another more than those whose blood
is close to yours, those whose DNA you share, not
the ones you were taught to hate even if you chose
to marry them, you are expected to carry
the tribal pride in your heart to trump any concern
for children burned or crushed to death in houses
that were high rises just moments before and now
lie in a rubble, and that should not trouble you
because the people inside got warnings to leave
before the bombs would fall, that’s fair, you must agree?
I took my children up to safety from the need to run for shelter
and the fright of being woken by the sirens in the night.
I took them up to stay in the safety of the city
of their father and his side. It is their side.
This city is not ’mixed’ in the sense of ethnic labels;
despite eclectic neighbours and many forms of worship
the city is united in nationalistic fervor.
I feel at home here. In normal time.
But it is not ’my side’
If I walk here in the streets with emotions running high
they won’t stop to ask if by any chance I happen to belong
or what might be my views on the daily news
they will only see what is right before their eyes
in the features of my face and the way I walk and dress,
no matter what goes on inside my head, inside my heart.
Heads or tails
And what goes on inside my heart?
Forgive them Father..
That is what I think as I struggle to persist in my compassion for us all.
When a mob gets on a victim with fists and clubs and kicks,
do you need to first be asking what ethnicity he is?
Do you need to ask the lynchers how they identify
before you make a judgement on whether they are right?
..for they know not what they do.