I have a lot of feelings about the world. That is possibly the most general statement I could make. But I don’t really know how else to put it. I’ve been trying to think of a thoughtful way to write about the refugees (mostly Syrian) pouring through Europe right now. When I moved from Lebanon to Kosovo almost a year ago the last thing I expected was to hear about Syrian refugees coming through the Balkans. I spent some of my time in Lebanon in the Beka’a Valley with Syrian refugee children. Now I live in Kosovo, and my Facebook newsfeed is flooded with images of Syrians walking across Macedonian and Serbian hills. Yesterday, I almost got on a bus to Macedonia because I just wanted to see if it was real. All of it is tragedy, but nothing is more intolerable than the effect this has on children.
I don’t feel adequate to write about this in its fullness, but I recently learned of the death of one little boy who I knew, sort of. He was one of the little Syrian boys who sold roses in Hamra. He died while in Syria visiting his family. When his picture appeared in my newsfeed, I knew him immediately. The reason why I’m so sure about this is because I wrote about meeting him. It was midnight and I was walking home alone from my friend’s apartment. He and another boy, whom I believe was his brother, approached me with roses. I smiled and shook my head and squeezed the shoulder of the boy with the slicked back hair. As I walked the rest of the way home, I began thinking about those little boys who were awake way passed their bedtime. And then I wrote this:
why aren’t you in bed?
Don’t you know there is school tomorrow?
You will be so tired.
where is your mother?
She should not let you stay out so late.
But if she still remains,
she must not have any other choice.
are you hungry?
I have some chocolates,
you may have them.
If you were my child
and there was no war,
I would make you sit at the table
and eat your vegetables.
I would iron your shirt
and make sure it was tucked in when you left for school.
But every afternoon when you came home
it would be untucked again.
If you were my boy,
we would go for walks to the park
and swing on the swings together.
We’d play until sunset,
and then we’d walk home,
and I’d put you to bed
at a decent hour.
But I’m too young to be a mother,
and you’re too young to be out so late,
but perhaps we both are.
Boy with roses,
I’m going to bed now.
You should too.