Am I allowed?

Am I allowed
to write about it?

I am not from Ukraine nor am I from Europe
I am not Russian or North American
I am not a Christian or a Jew

Am I allowed to write about it?
Am I allowed to be triggered?

In this world where we can only
write about what we know—

in this world where we know
nothing about ourselves—

am I allowed to mourn
the loss of others?

Am I allowed to recognize
the colour of blood
on faces alive and dead—

the ruined hopes of
an imperfect nation
like mine

Am I allowed to forgive their crimes
and pray for peace?

Am I allowed to be
a human
a witness
a writer?

Bänoo Zan is a poet, librettist, translator, teacher, editor and poetry curator, with more than 250 published poems and poetry-related pieces as well as three books including Songs of Exile and Letters to My Father. She is the founder of Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night), Toronto’s most diverse and brave poetry reading and open mic series (inception: 2012). Her social media links are: LinkedIn; Instagram; Facebook; Twitter. Bänoo, along with Cy Strom, is the co-editor of the poetry anthology: “Woman, Life, Freedom: Poems for the Iranian Revolution.” Deadline for sending poems is March 2024. Find the submission guidelines here: Read other articles by Bänoo.