After more than six years of service, I recently resigned from an organization that helps survivors of torture and war. It was a tough decision, and I’m going to miss my students a lot.
I’d like to dedicate the following poem to them. I wrote it in 2007, and it was published in the Winter 2009 edition of First Light Journal: Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture.
Trauma lives in your skin
an invisible twin,
a script of scars that freeze
silent horror scenes on replay
The demons that stalk you evade photographs
and only you can say where they keep the keys to your cell.
But an attentive friend can apprehend,
around the corners of conversations,
pale threads of the shroud that veils your suffering.
Your shadow reveals his choices
when you sit where you can check who enters the room,
when the words loss, lost, have lost
and death, dead, have died
pitch you into a private hell.
A tragedy we read in The Toronto Star
sets the ghosts to whispering “Remember, remember!”
what you want with all your strength to forget.
Quick to take offense,
your pain flashes out in bitter responses
that the sensible call extreme
but the sensitive know
arise from the depths of your rage
at the cruelty of dogmatists, thugs, criminals in uniform.
Trauma haunts you but also gives courage a voice,
exhaling stories that pull you to the surface,
intact and shining with resilience.