The Guardian

by Rida Khawaja
Issue: Kalopsia (Spring 2017)

Silhouettes of ghosts outline
broken dreams
lined along the lonely, desolate streets
like lost prisoners gathered at a funeral pyre
of new beginnings and continuous endings
as the phoenix throws itself into the fire
and is reborn from the ashes
that float and flutter like smokey butterflies

In the midst of this inky darkness
a streetlamp stands like a star of solitude
glowing and flickering, being engulfed by black
it watches over the streets, mourning the deaths
of a thousand broken dreams
a thousand broken minds
a thousand broken souls
a thousand broken hearts
a thousand broken bonds
slowly slipping away into the abysmal cemetery

The streetlamp crackles as it sees brothers
turn against brothers, and friends
turn against friends, each time the same
every time this delicate balance is torn apart
and every time the gossamer fabric is sewn together
but the vessel that holds one’s compassion
becomes emptier
and emptier

The streetlamp gazes in sorrow
as the fabric is torn again
and again and again
until finally the beauty is worn
and the colors diminished
and it too falls into the grave of forbidden hope
the intricate threads now torn and rough
barely strung together
by the faintest tendrils of empathy

The streetlamp watches the bottomless vessel
crash and shatter against the beings of shackled faith
as angry screams conquer the world around them
But the streetlamp sees a drop drip from a shard
of the vessel, a drop that might start a waterfall
if someone reaches out and pours