The Lost: a poem about a girl dying of cold

Tents and Snow

Tents and Snow

In this poem, I imagine a Syrian girl in her late teens dying, being the last of her family, after she and her family had witnessed the destruction of their village by the Syrian government war planes, which forced them to flee. They end in a refugee camp which the Syrians have named the death camps because the refugees are exposed in most of them  inside the country and outside to the terrible heat in summer and the terrible cold in winter with nothing to protect them but the helpless tents.

Who is at the door, 

A stranger at the door?

Come in, come in,

Who is not a stranger in this world,

In this life?

Sit on the floor, lady

For we do not have chairs, lady,

From earth to earth.

On the bare earth we sleep,

Our food is mixed with mud

And dusty mouths devour it.

We use mud to clean our pots

And when we do not find water,

Why, we wipe the mud off with the soil.

O, you are still standing

Please sit beside my little brother, Mousa.

I have many sisters and brothers.

Why are you staring at me?

You do not see any brothers and sisters,

But what about Layla the beautiful?

They came on a blind black night,

Big men shouting and cursing.

They pointed their guns at us and laughed.

A soldier tore Layla’s long robe

And she tore the heart of the night.

I hid behind my mother and I saw

Saw   Saw   Saw

I have never closed my eyes since,

I keep them open day and night.

Sleep is not for us.


Layla died and so did

All my brothers and sisters.

Is that why you stare?

But they are not dead,

How could he die,

He who has never lived?

After they had left the tent

My brothers and sisters

Went to live under the white stones.

The rain kept washing them clean

And they glistened in the sun.

I spend many nights there,

Wandering among them.

In the moonlight

Their graves

Look like flocks of pure white doves,

Ready to take off and fly away.

I sit on the ground near them

And tell them stories.

They listen and smile.


When my wounded father and sick mother

Joined my sisters and brothers,

I was left alone,

But when I began to cough blood,

They returned to me,

Leaving their shining graves.

Do not look so sad, lady,

I am not alone.

They are here with me.


Dirty dirt

A bed of a torn filthy mattress

A pillow of sweaty rags,

With the wind howling

Tearing at the tattered tent

Wolfishly roaring,

With the sands lashing

Spiralling like demented ghosts.

Death claims death

You mustn’t leave your own.

Brothers and sisters we are,

A wounded hand clasps an injured hand,

And parched lips

Kiss parched brows.

Constantly they stay with me

Day and night,

And Mousa keeps moaning.

He will never never stop.


There was a time, lady

When the fields were green

And soft oranges danced in the wind.

There was a time when

The olives ripened

And we climbed high

To collect them,

Our laughter ringing

Among the branches.

There was a time when we played

And collected the red apples.

We had a home then,

But the deafening war planes

Came out of the blue skies.

Heavens collapsed

The bombs dropped

The earth exploded

Our houses fell.

Flames  Flames   Flames

I heard the screams

As the smoke and the dust

Hid the noon sun.

Then came a black starless night,

But out of the darkness they emerged,

With guns and knives,

Howling like animals.

Why did they do that, why, why?

Layla went out of her mind, why?

I couldn’t remember anything after that.

My memory darkened into silence

And when I came to my senses,

I was sitting on the ground in this tent,

With my mother crying over me.


After the summer of flies and scorpions,

After the long days of stinking sweat,

After the relentless hunger and terrible thirst

Which took Zahra and Hala away from us,

We drifted into a winter without trees

 Without a harvest,

But frost and shivering,

Black wind whipping

And shivering

Tearing at the flesh

Freezing the eyes

And shivering.


Then, hissing hissing

The rains fell,

Drip dropping

Then thud thudding.

I floated burning burning

On a pool that gathered

 All around me bubbling

And washing me clean while soothing me,

As my sisters and brothers watched me

With soft peaceful eyes, in silence pleading.


There is a great sadness in my heart, lady

For all I can remember is something

Like a storm of death

Of children lulled by earth

Of sisters married to the graves

 And brothers sleeping with stones.


Don’t move, lady

The wind is moaning in the distance,

Mousa must have gone there.

Last night I looked out of a big rent

In our tent to see the stars falling,

No, not the stars,

but the snow falling.

I heard it whispering

In the depths of my fever.

Softly, softly

it murmured in my waking dreams

Softly softly

It crept upon me

And a sleep like no sleep called my name,

As my mother stretched her white arms to enfold me.


Icicles like diamond waterfalls

Draw frozen shadows along the tent walls

And with gleaming daggers

They rend the darkness collecting above me.

But my lungs and face burn and I feel no cold.

Stars are falling on my face and my parched lips,

Crowning me with light,

Falling falling

I can close my eyes now,

I can sleep.

Don’t touch me, lady.


Alisar Iram, January 2013

©Alisar iram



About alisariram

I am an artist, a writer and a researcher. I know Arabic and English . I am interested in music and art of every description. I like to describe myself as the embodiment of a harmonious marriage between two cultures which I value and treasure.
This entry was posted in Alisar's art, Alisar's poems, Children, Death, Images, Poems, Rape, Refugees, Rfugees, suffering, Syria, Syrian regime, Third phase+ the present phase of the Syrian Revolution, Victims and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Lost: a poem about a girl dying of cold

  1. alisariram says:

    Reblogged this on alisariram and commented:

    No, not the stars,

    but the snow falling.

    I heard it whispering

    In the depths of my fever.

    Softly, softly

    it murmured in my waking dreams

    Softly softly

    It crept upon me

    And a sleep like no sleep called my name,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s