Pakistan Burning: Another Reaction

I wrote the little piece of verse below this afternoon, while watching the footage of Bhutto's funeral. All the analysis on the news is becoming stale, because it concentrates on what we'll never definitively know, i.e., who killed her. We will need to wait a while to see how the assassination is playing out in Sindh and elsewhere.

On the Burial
The roads are quieter now,
As if the storming has passed;
But passed from us are the calmer paths
Where the prophets smile down
And the sunlight beams at pilgrims
Who pressed the dust deeper into the land
And kept their worlds within laughter.

What is left is the way of dust and ashes
The footprints of thousands that firm up
The Sindhi sand with their leaden tears
Until the land itself turns into salty rock;
Until their carriages burn metallic red;
Until wounds to the heart burn
As skin sliced in the Arabian Sea.

Her body passed through air her father’s knew
Thirty years ago, an April night at Rawalpindi Gaol,
Edging southward toward an end that ends
Hopes and dreams of the people that bleed
Red for the possibility of change, and power
That is not dammed up for the big men upriver
But flows across the plains for all to drink.

So the dust blows now on a harsher land --
Cold and stiff, and stripped bare of warmth
By machinations of its own manufacture:
Rusted tin soldiers wearing emperor’s robes,
Mansions built of the baked and broken souls
of those who bend over cotton and wheat,
The blood-eyed monsters who blow up those
who bow down in supplication to God,
The swallowed pills of foreign debt and demand.

As dusty day turns to night blackened by smoke,
An impulse to retreat takes hold, to dwell on through
The darkest night with collar up and cap pulled down,
Thinking of a lover lost in the massacre of innocence.

But bed and blanket provide no bodyguard, nor sleep any rest:
Wrapped in blood-stained chadors and tear-stained glasses,
we must find and follow the forgotten roads of those
Who walked leisurely in a clearer day, warm with wine
And verse, talking loudly as a crashing mountain river,
Ready to exile shadows and whispers from the world,
Walking tall, silently like the birch trees in spring.

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