Monday, October 31, 2016

New Poetry by Mohammad Ali Maleki

The Migrant Child 

I say hello to all the world's children. 
I kiss your hands from far away. 
I have something buried in my heart to tell you. 

It's stuck like a rock in my throat. 
My poem is wrecked, like myself. 
It's hard to tell the world these words, again. 

Migrant child,
how did you come to be drowned in the stormy ocean? 
What was your sin? Tell me, what was your fault? 
I knew you were innocent  
when I saw your corpse lying beside the sea, 
sleeping, like God's angel, on the sand. 
Your image left such deep sorrow in my mind! 
It set my soul on fire, burnt my heart. 

I understand you, sweetheart. 
You died so I can stay alive. 
You see, I am a migrant, like you. 
I fled from home, like you. 
I chose to come this way
but you had no choice — 
You were just scared and ran. 

God, why did you show no pity or mercy? 
It seems you have no relationship with this child! 
Again, you discriminate between the world's children. 
You have no wife, so perhaps you don't understand 
what having a child means. 
You didn't spend your life as a father, to really know.  

I have seen many die in the ocean, 
but those kids weren't recognisable. 
The waves of the stormy and wild sea
severed their heads from their little bodies
and they died in terrible silence beside each other. 
There were many kid’s heads floating in the water
and many bodies with no heads at all.
No one knew which belonged to which. 

That day, the sea had the colour of blood. 
My dear, drowned children, 
where are your bags and notebooks now? 
Have you given them to the ocean as gifts
so the sea may read them to the next wave of children? 
Ocean, aren't you sick of these repetitious scenes?
Or are you happy, to have caught these little ones so easily? 

My dear, innocent children, 
what did you feel when this happened to you? 
Tell us — the world's mothers will listen. 
They have children too, and understand. 

A child answers, softly —
The ocean was fearful that day. 
I saw all its angers.
It was an ogre, an animal, an executor —
it swallowed everyone down with its cruelty. 
My parents and friends were eaten by sharks, 
we died with pain and fear. 
We died so submissively! 
We were hoping our parents might rescue us. 
At the last moment, as I struggled, twitching and dying
I saw a hand stretching out to me —
I was so happy in that moment! 
It was my mother's hand, I recognised it. 
I took her hand happily
but then I realised it was severed! 

The ocean wasn't blue anymore —
Everywhere had the colour of hell fire. 
Still, she was my mother
and it was mother-love that stretched her hand to me —
Though it was severed, she was thinking of me
even in her dying moment! 
But I was hopeless and afraid
and released her hand to be eaten by the ocean...

Parents, who have heard my story, 
don't say, it doesn’t matter that you died. 
For I would like to play, just like your children! 
I wish to become a politician
so I can let migrant children into this country, 
not leave them to be devoured by the sharks!

But death didn't give me a chance. 
I was buried in exile, in this strange land. 
I saw many people looking for their lost limbs 
so they could be laid to rest in peace,  
but they buried us all together, jumbled up...

I wish I could lie in my mother's arms —
That might calm my spirit.
I wish I could see my mum laughing, even just once! 
I don't know where I will go now — heaven or hell? 
But I do know I've already seen hell, in this cruel world, 
with my own eyes.

 Mohammad Ali Maleki 2016

Translated by Mansour Shoustari
Edited by Michele Seminara

Mohammad Ali Maleki is currently detained on Manus Island.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is poetry that moves the reader beyond words. Thank you, Mohammad Ali Maleki, and thanks must go, too, for the sensitive translation and editing.

It is powerful, haunting, beautiful poetry, full of heartbreak and questions I suspect even God could not answer