Waiting for Death, a poem

newwaiting
Do you know
It’s been years
Since I’ve seen it
And still it haunts me
The image of a child
Clinging to the earth
No energy left
And barely any life
Skin tight against the bones
And no one
No one – in sight
Save a vulture
Waiting for her to die
And then the story
Circles ‘round
For who took the picture
And the controversy stirs
Did he do anything
Other than snap a pose
Was he forced
By soldiers
To remain quiet
A silent passenger
Waiting for death
But the controversy
Has no meat on its bones
Why can’t you see?
It is the image that speaks
It matters not,
If mother were near
Nor if help was on the way
It was the journey
The malnourished skin
That clung to withering bones
And what have we done?
We close the book
Pull out another magazine
And wait for another
Fascinating story
To scream out
At the checkout stand
While a child somewhere
Right now
As you are reading this
Dies
From neglect
From abuse
Wars they never started
They starve for hope
Their bodies cry out in hunger
While we close the book
Pull out another magazine
Shake our heads in shame
And wait for another
Fascinating story
To scream out
At the checkout stand
We wrap ourselves
In the comfort
Of knowing
We had pity.

© Sumyanna 2016

 

Submitted for The Daily Post Prompt: controversy

This image has been stuck in my mind for years.  I have never forgotten.  When I decided to write for this image, I went right away and searched for it.  I found that not long after the image was taken – the photographer (Kevin Carter) was taken to task for taking the image.  I cannot claim to know or understand what he went through in seeing what he saw.  I cannot claim to know what he did or did not do in taking the photograph.  In the end – I think it does not matter.  It also sad to find out that the photographer took his own life 3 months after the image won the Pulitzer Prize.  That anyone’s journey should lead them to be in this child’s situation, it is such a crying shame.  I could not help but write about it.  If you want to see the image that inspired this write, look up Kevin Carter – Sudan Famine – or Vulture and little girl.  You should be able to find it easily enough.

This should be enough to make us at least think about things.

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18 Comments Add yours

  1. 7128788elf says:

    Great poem, yes it always seem to be the children and women who suffer the most in mens wara, most of which are unnecessary in the extreme, and many are egged on by interventions from other countries, trying to gain from the circumstances. Unfortunately, as I remember it the child died not long after. How cruel this complex world can be. Carter, was a great photo-journalist, and because of the nature of his work a very tortured soul, he photographed a lot of the unrest in South Africa as well, taking many memorable photo’s there too (memorable for all the wrong reasons). He was one of the Bang-bang gang, along with other photographers like Ken Osterbrook (also took his own life) and others. There is a book and a film made about them. This picture also haunts me, and I also wrote a wee poem about it, but it describes the picture. The picture and the harshness of it all, leaves one stunned, with a feeling of hopelessness, all one can do is try and bring these problems to peoples attention. This was a great poem, that deserves more words, but this enough for now. Best wishes and blessings Charles.

    Like

    1. Sumyanna says:

      We always hope that women and children would be spared the pain, but I am sure that just as many men carry wounds of war. It is sad, really – for people not to reflect on the things they have that other’s do not. There is little contentedness. Equally so, it is sad that when we see others suffer, we often look away. Yes, I heard the child did die and not long after the photographer committed suicide. Such a horribly sad condition to have been witnessed and remembered. I am going to have to look up the other photographers. I like to try my best to learn at least a little more about the world around me and be aware of their struggles. I don’t know if my “knowing” helps much, but I think it helps me realize to be thankful and do what I can when I can.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 7128788elf says:

        Yes, look up bang, bang club and you will find out about them and him. It was just after the photo came out that the first concert for Africa was hastily brought together to help alleviate poverty, so the picture did help in this way. Theses concerts were based on The concert for Bangladesh, that wonderful concert brought together by my favourite Beatle, George Harrison and his friend the famous Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar. There never seems enough one can do to help!

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        1. Sumyanna says:

          I am definitely going to. The story, the work, the sacrifice they have made deserves that much. Sad to see there is so much more work to do (and many of us are not aware). Oh, the suffering in the world is often so much!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. 7128788elf says:

            es it can all seem overwhelming. Here we had one of those extraordinary days. The entire economy stopped for one morning, and hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest against the very corrupt administration of President Jacob Zuma. It all went on with very little violence. So let’s see if that changes anything here. In Cape Town there were no political parties involved, and people from across the political spectrum found each other, talked marched and found common ground, what a great day for our country. Best wishes and blessings, Charles.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Sumyanna says:

            So amazing to hear. It is good to see people using their voices for good. We need more of that. I do hope that someday we can look back and say that somewhere along the way we decided to make things better… for ourselves and others.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. 7128788elf says:

            Yes, this feels like something new, something that could help build a new society, that would take us forward into a future that will be easier and more peaceful than at present.

            Like

          4. Sumyanna says:

            I do sincerely hope so. We need to start making positive steps now, before it is too late.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. 7128788elf says:

            Yes, I hope so too, I think even if there are good signs, there is still a huge amount of very serious ills in the world, not helped by some of our leaders.

            Like

  2. Saw the pic and reread your poem… I’m speechless… the is so much suffering around us we only have to open our eyes to see. We crib about what what have… this is an eye opener for all those who are never satisfied. A dark poetry… but then who says that truth is easy… bravo dear… you caught the essence👏👏👏

    Like

    1. Sumyanna says:

      So very true. I am just surprised at some of the things going on in the world (still today) that I thought were old problems. I guess we are just isolated in our view and views. To think this is still going on is just disheartening. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love it Now says:

    I saw it before and heard about the photographer… shocking

    Like

    1. Sumyanna says:

      Yes, I definitely agree.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sangbad says:

    Saw the picture and reread your poem…it’s haunting….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sumyanna says:

      I remember seeing it so many years ago and I don’t remember what prompted this memory – I often write for word prompts, but for some reason I could see the image as if I only saw it yesterday. It is still haunting. To think that people truly suffer in such a manner is just heart breaking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sangbad says:

        yup…i agree with you…some memories just remain dormant…

        Like

  5. This is an incredible poem, Sumyanna. Living in Africa I think I am exposed to so much intense poverty it sometimes feels unbearable. There is only so much any one person can do – I give time and money to charities at Church and work and even carry tins of food in my car for people on the street who look very wretched. It is never enough!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sumyanna says:

      Thank you Robbie. I cannot imagine being surrounded by such devastation. It just breaks my heart. We see it here in the suburbs, but definitely not in the way that it is seen in other countries. I have traveled overseas and was just shocked at the treatment of the poor. I guess it truly isn’t much different here – but you just don’t see it as much. I saw that image I was talking about while I was growing up. For some reason, it still haunts me. I feel for you as well as those that suffer there. I know there suffering is something we as human beings should not tolerate. Here in the US, you would be surprised at the waste. From food to other resources like water, we take it for granted.

      Liked by 1 person

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