On Friday the saviour died for our sins
That we might live.
Dumuzi, on the blood river’s brink
Takes the plunge.
Israa Yunis, seven years old, takes the plunge
And the little boys of Dara’a whose skulls they smashed
The brave men of Jableh, the warm women of Bayda
The intellectuals, the street kids, the people of truth
Walk into the waves.
Constriction seals you
Lungs, valves and borders close
Death awaits you in the hospitals
Funerals are held when night falls
Blood runs down the coastal road
And fills the alleys to their dusty roofs.
But do not drown, children of spring –
Rise, that we might live.
3 thoughts on “Easter Blood”
How tragic, but sorrowfully “normal”, that the blooming Arab Spring has to be watered, indeed baptized, with the crimson blood of the innocents who dared to have a simple dream – that of freedom and dignity. Is there anything more noble, more utterly human and perfectly ordinary than this? Is there no end to a lesson? When will the foolish Arab despots realize that they are fighting the wrong battle because they are on the wrong side of history?
I rebelled against the patriarchal and forbidding dogmas of Christianity when I was a child. But as an adult I came to appreciate the suffering of Christ, which to me is a symbolic prism for the pain and sacrifice inherent in life – for, despite all our best and sometimes successful efforts to challenge injustice, human life can never be perfected. I later learned that the story of the resurrection has its roots in ancient Mesopotamian mythology – Inanna, Ishtar, Dumuzi, Tammuz and Geshtinanna must all cyclically journey to the underworld and return in order that the land may bring forth its abundance out of scarcity again. This poem moves with great dignity and vivid precision between this widely shared cultural inheritance, and the political and heartbreakingly personal dramas unfolding now in Syria. It ends with a plea that is neither hopeless nor hopeful: it is a command to we the breathing, to incorporate both the courage and the deaths of those murdered on Friday into our consciousness of what it really means to live.