• Author’s Note:  Two days ago there was a missile strike on a school bus in Yemen “mistaken” for carrying rebels. 40 children died.
This poem is on the aftermath…..

Multi colored, used blankets
That’s what they brought them in
Wrapped and ensconced
Almost as if they were asleep
In a way they were, weren’t they?
Small bundles, medium size bundles
And some large ones too
All shapes and all colors
Never knew they could come in such varieties
Now they placed these on the ground
And the mob gathered, rushed to them
As if it contained treasures
Well almost, they were treasures
Or at least used to be
The reactions were different when the folds were opened
Stunned silence, wails and sobs
And, of course, the obligatory calls to almighty
The dusty roads threw up dust, which heralded the coming
Of another vehicle bearing gifts
And those of us standing empty handed and in wait
Knew, that very soon we’d be on the receiving end.
Wails, mourns, tears, blankets!
So very useful indeed
So there were two pick ups
And they came to a screeching halt
Just before the gathered crowd,
It had hardly stopped when some immediately reached into the rear
And then bundles in blankets, lots of them
For all of us!
Saw a turquoise blue one this time
Very artsy with embroidery
Wondering if mine was wrapped in it
Took steps towards the truck
And the guy standing in the rear was hollering
To come quickly as if he was distributing free food or some boon
Feet seemed stuck to the ground as if tied to ball and chain
But had to get there, someone was waiting
If to find solace in the craziest of things
It was the blue one after all
And in it was folded something else too, an answer
A whole life of prayer and obedience
And one day
You’ll be made to receive the body of your child
From the back of a rusty pickup truck
Wrapped in a turquoise embroidered blanket

Rizwan Saleem is a Banker based in Dubai UAE. The thoughts and expressions detailed in his works are of his various escapades suffered through life, and of the profound surprise of having survived long enough to pen them into words. His poems and prose have appeared in anthologies Twenty Seven Signs by Lady Chaos Press, Self Portrait Poetry Collection by Silver Birch Press, E fiction India, Scarlet Leaf Publishing as well as Colors of Refuge. Read other articles by Rizwan.