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For a Palestinian Child, with Butterflies
by Michael R. Burch

Where does the butterfly go ...
when lightning rails ...
when thunder howls ...
when hailstones scream ...
when winter scowls ...
when nights compound dark frosts with snow ...
where does the butterfly go?

Where does the rose hide its bloom
when night descends oblique and chill,
beyond the capacity of moonlight to fill?
When the only relief’s a banked fire’s glow,
where does the butterfly go?

And where shall the spirit flee
when life is harsh, too harsh to face,
and hope is lost without a trace?
Oh, when the light of life runs low,
where does the butterfly go?

Published by Tucumcari Literary Review, Romantics Quarterly, Poetry Life & Times, Victorian Violet Press (where it was nominated for a “Best of the Net”), The Contributor (a Nashville homeless newspaper), Siasat (Pakistan), and set to music as a part of the song cycle “The Children of Gaza” which has been performed in various European venues by the Palestinian soprano Dima Bawab. Keywords/Tags: butterfly, children, storm, lightning, thunder, hailstones, snow, frost, night, shelter, comfort, safety, rose, fire, warmth, Holocaust, Nakba, Gaza, Trail of Tears, slavery, injustice, abuse, ethnic cleansing, genocide
Something
―for the children of the Holocaust and the Nakba
by Michael R. Burch

Something inescapable is lost—
lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight,
vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars
immeasurable and void.

Something uncapturable is gone—
gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn,
scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass
and remembrance.

Something unforgettable is past—
blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less,
which finality swept into a corner, where it lies
in dust and cobwebs and silence.

It was my honor and privilege to work with survivors of the Holocaust and Hiroshima on translations of their poems and accounts into English. What they have told us is unutterably sad, and saddest of all is hearing about the lives of children being full of horror and terror, only to be cut short. Unfortunately today Palestinian children in Gaza and the West Bank are experiencing something similar, a modern Trail of Tears ...

— The End —