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Thirst

Perie Longo read this original poem at the Foundation's 16th Annual Sadako Peace Day commemoration on August 6, 2010.

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Humans are not our enemies.
        –Thich Nhat Hanh

Out of the silence of writing she
flies to the front of the lecture hall
like a raven, black swirled around her head,
draped over body, a veil
fastened over mouth ear to ear,

her eyes mirror and shadow,
beauty and anguish at once.
In her hand a small scrap of paper
like a sail, her words a wind that propels her.

She wants to read her poem
released when I spoke
of how poetry can be a road to peace,
how Rumi wrote to greet every feeling
as guest to the house of the heart.

The veil that covers her mouth puffs in and out
with each breath, a tent opening
in the desert between us

as she speaks about being hidden,
not heard, how she aches
with loss, relatives felled
for war’s intolerable gain.

When I ask what can I do
she tears the veil from her mouth:
Say more.
I have such thirst.

East and West moving one direction,
sand becomes water we drink and drink.

Published in The Paterson Literary Review (Issue 36, 2008-2009)


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