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Truth and Tragedy

For Elnor

Don’t pity me that I can’t recall my mother.

I have a hundred mothers now,

who raised me with a blade in my hands

and truth on my lips.

Women of the cloth and sword

have made me what I am.


The tan qalanq is more than a weapon,

more than an art,

more than its length and breadth

forged with metals from a now-dead world. 

In its weight,

I feel the weight of my lost ancestors,

and the ones that claimed me as their own

after an exploding star set me adrift. 


And yes, the weight of that star lives in my sword as well. 


Don’t mistake my candor for naivety;

I’m intimate with tragedy,

well-versed in violence,

and sit in meditation, side by side 

with loss and longing. 

Though I wish to see the truth 

reflected back from you

I’m wise enough to not expect it. 


The world is thick with treachery,

hunger, and despair, 

but even in these times, 

where we breathe anger in the air

and bleed hope into the water,

life, and its beauty, persists.

Water can still catch light. 

Breezes still sing through holes in the trees.


You can choose to cling to this

should your path converge with mine. 

Or else, your thousands of what-ifs, 

the paths not taken, love not given,

messages not received, 

innocents not defended,

can end with me. 


Don’t mistake the choice I offer you

for weakness.

You always have a choice.

I’m just the messenger of the inevitable. 

Me, a child of a dead world,

with two legacies to protect

and a sword that bears the weight

truth and tragedy. 

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