(Poem) Can You Hear? by Jhilmil Breckenridge

Jhilmil Breckenridge

A breeze wafts over ribbons and police barricades. Ambulances flash red but I cannot hear their wails.

I see a woman’s back heave, her red dupatta1 fallen.
A young girl clings to her, eyes spilling memories.
A young man, his head against a wall, tries to be manly but the tears fall, silently. I cannot hear. I cannot hear.

Rose petals over earth, trails of incense smoking above. A priest with a collar white like the lilies on graves.
His arms rise and his lips move.
He is speaking but I cannot hear. I cannot hear.

Green leaves flutter under heavy clouds promising rain and a squirrel darts through blades of grass.

For all mothers whose daughters were raped or carried away

Forallforgotteninnocentsofgallis andcourtyards
For all workers in brick kilns, factories and mines
For all nameless, faceless voices in call centres
For all girls whose faces bear love in the guise of acid
For all children who sob, but will not reveal their night terrors For all the forgotten, for the ones left behind, for you, for me.

Can you smell the roses? Can you smell the charred flesh? Can you smell the incense? Can you taste their tears?
Can you? Can you?

For all prisoners whose hearts carry their yesterdays For all students who want to learn, but schools sell dark, endless nights of learning by rote
For all wives, beaten behind drawn curtains

For the ones seeking dawn after a dark night For you. For me. For them. For us.

Birds are starting to chirp and in the distance, a car. A train rumbles and a breeze gently rustles leaves of a mango tree, like a mother running her fingers through her son’s hair as he sleeps. Somewhere

in the house, a door opens, and I hear the kettle being switched on. Tea is brewing, music is playing, and I can hear. I can hear.

Meet Mago Contributor, Jhilmil Breckenridge.

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