Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Nature, and Politics

Richard St. John: The Sparrows of Bahrain

Behind Beit Al Qur’an – its thirteen centuries of texts

enshrined in glass, where you can see beneath a lens

the holy verses on a grain of rice – the sparrows of Bahrain

scuffle by the trashbin, and leave

their delicate calligraphy upon the dust.

 

The price of oil goes up; they are not touched by it.

The causeway to the Saudi states shuts down;

the sparrows squabble, mate and flutter on.

Communications towers, refineries, desalination schemes

are of another world to them.

 

In the 27th sura of Qur’an, Solomon has marshaled

all his jinn, his birds and men, into a vast battalion.

Sheba sends forth envoys bearing thick, tooled gold.

Solomon responds: “That which Allah has bestowed

on me is more than any wealth you send.”

 

At the public dump in Manama, sparrows

move nimbly among the flames, finding

the tiny grains even the last few

poor within this oil emirate disdain.

On the final day, when darkness comes

 

and mountains pass away like clouds, when the last

oil spill has stained the last fair stretch

of sand, when the spreading desert

has engulfed the last hectare of working land,

when the gardens and the office towers have drained

 

the last sweet water flowing underground,

will the sparrows of Bahrain break into flame?

Will they become avenging angels?

Or only mark this desert place, like feeble

votive candles held against the dark?


 

From Each Perfected Name (Truman State). Copyright 2015 Richard St. John

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Richard St. John (photo by Mark Perrott)

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This entry was posted on April 17, 2017 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry, War and Peace and tagged , .
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