The Weeping Woman (2024)

He packed starvation into
boxes when he started the
slow annihilation of it all.

They ask: Is this war?

No food. No water. Children
suffer. Die. Siege. Buildings
shred to bits. Missile-hit.

They ask: Is this war?

Death packs into shells
children who have not
known what it is to live.

They ask: Is this war?

The Weeping Woman wept
at Guernica. Were cities
splintered to extinction when
acid fields spewed poetry
poetry that gave lie to
Horace’s dulce et decorum
est pro patria mori? (1)

Sunflowers in ripped cities
stand tall but what about
foetuses that die?

Can unbidden hunger and thirst
kill those who do not understand
the politics of starvation, of drought?

Is genocide taught as part of the
art of war? How will it end — this
erasure of humanity? Of humans,
of cities, of edifices they have built?

Long ago, a Weeping Woman wept.
Who will be left to weep now in
buildings bombarded out of life?

If no one remains — no humans,
no homes, no food, only shards—
what will be left to rule?

Will birds still sing in the sky?

(1) In 1937, Picasso painted Guernica and The Weeping Woman to portray the 1937 bombing during World War II. During World War I, Wilfred Owen, a soldier and a poet had refuted Horace’s teaching — ‘It is sweet and fitting to die for the Fatherland’ in his poem Dulce et Decorum est which was published after he died in 1918 in the battlefield, just before the signing of the Armistice.


Mitali Chakravarty founded an online site which has published its first hard copy anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles: An Anthology of Writings from across the World. She has recently brought out her first collection of poetry, Flight of Angsana Oriole: Poems and has an earlier book of humorous essays on living in China where she spent eight years, In the Land of DragonsRead other articles by Mitali.