Rudolfo Anaya Syria’s Children The tyrant is mad! The tyrant is mad! He rains bombs on innocent children! Stop! I pray and watch on TV as Syria is destroyed, cities laid Waste. Dust and the stench of death Fill the streets. Assad’s bombs Murder man, woman and child. Death does not discriminate, evil is Loose upon the world -- Run! Run! Save the children! Gather your Belongings and flee north, Become pilgrims in this Exodus of our murderous time.
Sojourners in foreign countries, You did not choose this pilgrimage, Assassins forced you out of your Homes, your holy land. I pray You find rest on Europe’s shores.
The children, Syria’s children, Images burned in my soul. Cold and Hungry, exhausted from walking -- Whose arms will open to greet you?
At dinner I eat a green salad And feast on a delicious meal. At night I take my sleep in A warm December bed.
The weary months struggle into January snow, New Year’s cold rains. The pilgrims’ highway turns to mud. The children sleep in cold tents Under cold, wet blankets. Thousands upon thousands exiled From their homes, seeking new Earth on which to rest.
What can I do? Pray nightly to la Virgen Guadalupe, Mother of Mexico, I beg you, gather the children in Your blue robe, cover them with Juan Diego’s tilma spread a carpet Of dark, red roses in their path.
Long ago el Santo Niño de Atocha Delivered food to prisoners. Now Humble saint, fill your basket with Bread for the children. Deliver us From our sins and our temptations, I pray into long, restless nights. My pleas fall like doom. I am a haunted man. What good Is prayer? The carnage continues.
Can I do more than watch TV? Can I reach out and touch? Adopt Two tortured children as my own? Diane of the muddy, pink coat. I stare into her blue eyes, Swollen with fear, clinging to her Parents’ hands, her pilgrim’s path A prison of railroad tracks. Efran, who drowned in the cold Middle Sea, his body washed ashore. Is this his pilgrim’s rest? A million TV sets around the world Flashed the image, a man picking Up the frail, dead body, as one Might gather a lovely, white gull Drowned in the wine-dark sea.
Diane baptized by freezing rain, Efran by a salty sea, I name you, I baptize you now, my children, Not images on TV but flesh and Blood. Are my prayers answered? The world sits down to dinner. I am that man at dinner, A haunted soul.
In the dooryard the apricot tree Blooms, a bride in spring white. Will my Diane ever dress in white? My Efran find his way home? The pilgrimage is not yet done. Syria’s lost generation is still At sea, on the road, prisoners in Foreign camps, my children dying. Do I have anger enough to fight? Enough rage to save the children? Compassion enough to offer My home, my meals…