Reminiscence: A poem by Shirani Rajapakse


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Biting cold in a foreign land, dressed
in cotton for a Sri Lankan summer. Chilled

to the bone I watch the boats come in. Frozen
winds blow from the north, smells different,

unlike the hot pungent air of home. Raw fish
not quite dead squirm in the net their eyes

pleading for solace where there is none.
They are food in this country that see no reason

to treat them as life with desires like you
and me, feeling pain and fear. Sanctioned by

God that it’s alright to kill. I chant sutras
softly to their soon to be lost lives as I turn around

and walk away into the darkness unable to look
at the dying anymore. The gloom settling

in from beyond the waters cold and frigid. Coffee
gulped down does nothing to warm coursing down

my throat and its back to the old grey road, cobbled
that sounds out my steps as I trudge. Grey overhead

and smoke on my breath. The night sets in like
a lost soul hiding inside an abandoned house.

Shirani Rajapakse is a Sri Lankan poet, playwright and author.

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