The hollow shell of a house stands on the corner of the street Shrouded in stillness and echoing with the sound of abandonment Shards of glass hang loosely in place of the windows The walls are crumbling and rusted metal is poking out of every corner
Everything looks fragile As though balanced delicately on the brink of a cliff Threatening to fall apart in a puff of dust at a single touch Everywhere are sharp edges and the ground under your feet is unstable
As though it, too, will crumble away, open up to swallow you. Inside the house is what the occupants couldn’t carry away with them Grandmother’s old basket chair that sagged Whenever she sat on it with the weight of her broken heart
The children’s drawing of their heroic father Who would, they believed, surely return one day Mother’s worn-out sandals that had faithfully accompanied her Whenever she went out in search of work to feed her hungry children.
The occupants have left them all behind Knowing they would never get any of it back They are shadows as they hurry through the night Their feet carrying them to an unknown destiny and away from this war But their eyes are hollow like the shell of an empty abandoned house.
Maliha Iqbal is a student and writer based in Aligarh, India. Many of her short stories, write-ups, letters and poems have been published on platforms like Cerebration, Times of India, Countercurrents, Café Dissensus, Creativity Webzine, The Palestine Chronicle and Borderless Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com.
This poem depicts the existential violence induced by imperialist wars against the people of the Third World. Taking Syria as a silent referent, the poem shows how the conversion of entire countries into playgrounds for proxy wars uproots families from their local surroundings and inflicts permanent psychological damage.
By Maliha Iqbal