Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Christine Rhein: A Surgeon Writes from Aleppo

based on a May 4, 2016 New York Times Op-Ed 
         by Dr. Osama Abo El Ezz
 
 
We are running out of coffins.                                    
The city burns, street by street—
even the stones are catching fire.
Our last pediatrician has been killed.
 
The city burns, street by street,
hospitals deliberately bombed.                       
Our last pediatrician has been killed,
at work, rushing to Emergency.                                              
 
Hospitals deliberately bombed,
rooms and hallways overflowing.
At work, rushing to Emergency,
we put on our bravest faces.
 
Rooms and hallways overflowing,
we have to choose which patients to save.
We put on our bravest faces.
The planes keep roaring overhead.
 
We have to choose which patients to save—
that father, this mother, her son or daughter.
The planes keep roaring overhead.
It is hard to describe waiting for death.
 
Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters—
all of us, living on luck now.
It is hard to describe waiting for death,
begging the outside world to help.
 
All of us—living on luck now.
Even the stones are catching fire.
Begging the outside world to help—
we are running out of coffins.

Copyright 2019 Christine Rhein

First published in the British journal Here Comes Everyone.

Rescuers and civilians search the rubble of a destroyed building in the Syrian village of Kfar Jales, on the outskirts of Idlib, following airstrikes by Syrian and Russian warplanes in 2016. (Omar Haj Kadour/AFP via Getty Images)




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