Ice rain on the roads
Eats my plans.
Homage to Aitezaz Hassan – 17 years of age – who died in Peshawar, Pakistan
A boy in a faraway land died.
He ran towards death wearing nothing under his tunic but love and courage,
It didn’t stop the day, the children from seeing the shock on his face.
It didn’t stop the wicked hatreds hidden in the bomber’s heart,
Nor did it stop his blood from oozing or his father’s crippling grief.
That day Aitezaz acted with stunning compassion.
That day he claimed the right to rule, to govern, and pass judgement.
This day, and only that day, when he wore the piercing crown of unselfishness,
he reigned over the world.
Yesterday we saw his small picture on page 28, eyes squinting in the sun, a smile full of promise.
Today he is barely in the news, for that was Thursday and now it’s Saturday.
Today we talk about him as if he had been a relative who drifted from us, a very distant cousin,
We claim him briefly for what he did and say “Can you imagine?” or wish we could.
We wonder what gave him a vision so clear he knowingly ran to death’s arms while
we just read about it – in the newspaper, scrolling up or down, flicking east or west
across our delicate devices, content that we knew.
Should we not have all run out of our homes to stand in the streets, to yell or
shout out his name into the rain, at least say it properly?
Shouldn’t we have drunk a toast and with tears in our eyes, thrown glasses into the fire?
How do we say to his friends and family that we honour this boy, who in one fleeting
moment in a schoolyard, grew to be a man on a Monday in Peshawar?
These summer clouds remind me of the ones in the painting
I saw once, as a child, hanging over our dying great aunt’s bed.
They were Catholic clouds, fluffy white, painted above the agonizing saints and
the Christ with a glowing red heart.
Were they waiting for redemption? Or maybe they hoped to become part of
Turner’s stormy sunsets,
Gaugin’s south sea skies, or a
frame for Taylor’s growling Spitfire Merlins.
Maybe they wished to escape that morbid room, and drift away as they have done
for millennia – floating back and forth until today,
when I look up and see them and hear
the cawing of a crow which has, perhaps, warned of a bear.
I look around.
My great aunt is dead. My kids have grown up, and then,
I see those clouds again.
Sally Wylie has recently retired from her career in Early Childhood Education. In 2012, she co-authored her 4th edition of the text titled Observing Young Children: Transforming early learning through reflective practice with Nelson Publishing. She has published numerous articles in Canadian Journals on subjects relating to early childhood. She is happy to finally be writing fiction and be part of a writing circle!
See Brian Henry's schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara on the Lake, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.
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