For the victims of the APS shooting in Peshawar, 16/12/14.
The mornings in Providence are not different to those in my native land. The earth picks up from a slumber, and groans a little louder with each hour. The birds rise first, telling you that this world will come at you, but that’s no reason to stop singing.
When spring comes, so do the daffodils. Yellow buds in bloom. They are my favourite thing about the shedding season. So fragile, and beautiful, I always pick them when they have just bloomed. I cannot resist. I almost forget how hard the soil cries at this separation. At night I put their stems in water on my desk and admire how beautiful they look even as they are dying.
Lately, I am told, in my native land, mothers stay up long into the night staring at all of the dark. The birds have stopped chirping. I am told something must be given up for something beautiful to be born. In Peshawar, there is nothing beautiful about blood. Nothing beautiful about barren gardens. Nothing beautiful about graveyards in bloom. Too many flowers have been plucked from the soil and buried.
All around me, the city is clutching at its roots. This ancient city of bloom, I am searching for her beauty but I find no gardens and begin to wonder whether the gunmen plucked its children the same way I had done the yellow daffodils.
Did they think them beautiful? Did they look into the eyes of the children and see them blooming? Did they confuse children for flowers, this city for a garden? And did they ignore the soil when it screamed? Do they not hear her now, sobbing for her gardens to return?
At night, I stare at all of the dark.
There is nothing left to set aside on a desk after this winter is gone.
~ Zainab Syed
Zainab Syed graduated from Brown University in May 2014 with a degree in Political Science. She is an internationally touring Spoken Word Artist and Educator, and was a finalist in the Australian National Poetry Slam. Zainab currently lives between Lahore and Perth, Australia, and has known home in many other places including Providence, Sana’a, London, Llantwit Major, Bucharest, and Islamabad.