I remember the day the tanks rolled up
and we hid in that narrow room at the back
of the house. The birds fell silent.
In a moment of stillness we heard quite clearly
ek, do, teen, fire. Over and over, each shout
followed by a thud, each thud followed
by a crash, each crash and splintering
of our world amplified in that narrow space.
Glass shattered, timber collapsed. Dust
and frass danced in the air as the ceilings
blushed hot. I remember, over the boom
of the tanks, the thin tinkling of the piano
as bullets ricocheted off walls and door
frames. Our hearts paused. You and I
cowered on that floor, petrified.
It took an hour for the house to capitulate
in flames, so the neighbours said later
when they found us hardened into a stone
stillness. Although we returned many times
through the years to that room – on that day,
in that year, when the tanks had done
their job and moved away, we emerged
two bodies deadened to feelings
so cold, so numb, so walled in
that was our tragedy.
This poem is from Shash's pamphlet, From a Borrowed Land, which was published by The Poetry Business on 1st May 2021. You can find it here.