For All the Children From Uttar Pradesh to Gaza
My children, you must forgive me
for I have nothing left to give you.
Please forgive hollow bones.
No more can I leave you
the mango tree
that once hid ever
childish dream and discovery.
They say it bore some strange fruit
So we had to cut it down,
Cut them all down until there were
no more mango trees.
I cannot leave you sweetness, my loves,
My tongue is drained of delight
so you must inherit
this bitter, aching thing.
All my life, I have wandered
with a singular mission
to collect gifts to greet
you with when you arrive.
I marched for miles and collected songs,
climbed mountains and swam across rivers,
held my breath to dive deep in search of treasure,
only to earn my weightlessness.
But they have taken all these gifts away from me.
No more can I give you the beach,
Because someone has corrupted play
Now, even the shore is touched by decay.
No more can I offer you the thrill of monsoon clouds
Because one day villagers
hid in their homes from the rain
and when they re-emerged to a clear sky,
they found the trees had lost their luscious leaves,
even the rain burns the skin
that I must pass on to you.
All I have left is this
lump in my throat
that I polish everyday.
Because it’s made of all the poison I have swallowed in this world,
it may be of use to you someday,
when you look for something with which
to sharpen your spine.
* * *
Diya Bose is a Bengali-American writer and a sociologist-in-training based in Los Angeles. She wrote this poem as a way to grapple with the senselessness of all the violence that’s currently taking place all over the world. Find her on Twitter at @DiyaCBose.