Poet: Muhammad Nasrullah Khan
God, my mother told me,
You are the embodiment of love.
Since then, I have adored you most.
But I wonder do you understand me?
I read your book in the foreign language
of those who rule us.
Are you on the side of missionaries
who pour money into their coffers?
Do you not hear the cry of the children who sleep on dirt floors?
Their souls evaporate into the night
— the dark and cold embrace of death.
How can you ignore
the suffering of a child?
Or the landscape of poverty that swallowed his mother
and misplaced his dad?
He cries in his own language.
Do you understand that language too?
Malnourished mothers' milk dries in their breast;
They can no longer feed their babies.
Their hands raise to you in despair.
Can’t you see, God?
A father who does not beg or steal, starves.
He looks towards you before hanging himself.
I believe you can’t be blind to the sight.
Do you greet and welcome his fractured soul?
A poor young girl screamed before being raped
You’re not deaf.
Starvation, neglect, illness, and cruelty
are not different in your holy book.
Unless you don’t understand
when they’re said in my language.
Is the emotion behind them the same,
no matter the place, no matter the people?
Outside a fancy shopping mall,
A little girl sells colorful balloons
to buy medicine for her mother.
She looks towards the sky,
and talks to you.
Do you feel her despair?
A woman on her knees at a corner begs for coins,
a tiny baby in her arms.
In pain, she calls You.
Do her prayers reach You?
Or are they the wrong language?
Do you live in her empty bowl?
We sing hunger songs on holy nights,
high on gospel phrases with a symphony of soul
and faith carrying us down Your path.
We walk the line.
Our arms outstretched toward
the mystic constellations in a crystallin sky.
But You run ahead.
Is our faith only a mantra?
The World is Your creation.
Why won’t you listen, almighty savior?
Do You sleep inside a nascent dream?
We ask only for a piece of bread,
no matter if it’s stale; we don’t care.
We are hungry.
But we receive humiliation and hunger.
I don’t dare say
You have a careless heart.
But — could it be true?
Oh, God! Will Your Kingdom never come?
We yearn to walk the road to the edge of the light;
where there is no hunger or death,
where sun does not sting bare skin.
Where intangible, indiscernible
words do not wound us.
Our breath grazes the candle’s flame,
at a saint’s tombstone.
The flame struggles, in its last moment,
to live or to die.
Are we that candle?
Or smoke dissipating in the darkness?