Art is man’s constant effort to create for himself a different order of reality from that which is given to him.
Refugee Mother and Child
by Chinua Achebe
No Madonna and Child could touch
that picture of a mother’s tenderness
for a son she soon would have to forget.
The air was heavy with odours
of diarrhoea of unwashed children
with washed-out ribs and dried-up
bottoms struggling in laboured
steps behind blown empty bellies.
Most mothers there had long ceased
to care but not this one; she held
a ghost smile between her teeth
and in her eyes the ghost of a mother’s
pride as she combed the rust-coloured
hair left on his skull and then –
singing in her eyes – began carefully
to part it… In another life this
would have been a little daily
act of no consequence before his
breakfast and school; now she
did it like putting flowers
on a tiny grave.
There are times I come across poems that make the hair on the back of neck stand up. So it was with both of these, the words creating an indelible imprint of empathy for the hard road of poverty that so many endure. It’s hard to fathom all of the secondary effects of this pandemic, to truly quantify how it will make hard lives even harder, but its a certainty that more people will wake up hungry in the coming year because of it. And already strained humanitarian efforts in many parts of the world will be stretched even further. Hunger is a universal issue as prevalent in the affluence of the United States as elsewhere. As we search for medical solutions to help us address this global issue, let’s not lose sight of other basic needs like access to clean water, clean air and food that should be the right of human being on this planet, not a privilege reserved for the wealthy. How should governments work to make a better future for the least among us, not just the most powerful and connected?
(South African Poet)
I see them in my dreams. Their tiny hands
Clutch feebly at the air; upon my face
Blows their sweet breath; a little voice demands
My eager kisses. In that soft embrace
A sense of aching, though I know not why,
A sense of some forgotten, longed-for joy,
A joy that thrills me through, yet makes me sigh,
That time could never change, nor death destroy;
Still in my dreams I clasp them to my breast,
Their soft warm presence folded close to mine;
And o’er me steals the balm of perfect rest,
And through my veins a gladness like to wine.
I murmur, shiver–then, as cold as stone,
Awake–and oh, dear God! awake alone.