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21st Century Poetry Wesal Sheikh Khalil

by Sue Johns

 

after Glyn Maxwell

Something was done and she ran from her home
She was glad she had gone but she wouldn’t return.
It wasn’t a game and there’s always a war
between knowing her name and why she was there.

With her pocket of stones and her bottles of water
and anything sharp to cut through the wire.
Her tale is the tale of a small strip of land
if we lived in that land then would we understand

the anger of children who’d die for a cause?
Her name was Reunion. She would not recoil
from a border on fire on which she was a flame.
Once I looked at her smile I was never the same.

Her head took the bullet, the bullet that came
from a sniper whose target was just a young girl.
Her home was one room for six children and mother;
each Friday she’d gone to the fence with her brother.

Something was done and she ran from her home.
She was glad she had gone but she wouldn’t return.
It wasn’t a game and there’s always a war
between knowing her name and why she was there.

Her family begged do not go on this day
She was fourteen years old she was seven decades.
She said she must go on the Yawn an-Nakba
and would be on the March of Return inshallah.

I looked at her picture, I’m holding it still,
I printed her picture to make her seem real.
Her name was Reunion. She could never get in
to that city of hers to which she’d never been.

Wesal Sheikh Khalil was shot dead in 2018, one of more than 60 people killed when Israeli snipers fired on protesters demonstrating at the Gaza border. She was 14 years old.

Sue Johns started performing as a punk poet in Cornwall in the 1980s. Her collections include Hush, Rented and Track Record. 21st-century Poetry is edited by Andy Croft, email [email protected].

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