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For My Students, Hearing the News | Merna Ann Hecht

A photo of many multicolored prayer flags against a clear deep blue sky. There is a poem by Merna Ann Hecht titled "For My Students, Hearing the News" that reads: "of a brutal coup in Burma,/knowing there is nothing I can do/about the sudden arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi,/or the eruption of violence filling the streets.//What might I do for Regina and Vung,/who already wrote poems of losing/their farmer-fathers, whose bicycles/once balanced baskets and daughters/before the soldiers' shots,/and their bright days dissolved into darkness.//Is there nothing I can do/for Sui and Bu Meh, Kang Pu and Kum,/each telling me the hardest thing/is to live without a mother, thinking they could not/when stuffed into flimsy boats alone,/with the old, the young, the torn-from.//Nothing seems as simple as remembering/the first sumptuous heat of Burmese tea leaf salad/greeting my palette, learning from my students/that only the Burmese create a salad from tea leaves,/perhaps to hide them before the colonizers could pilfer/the precious crop for their high teas and civilized pleasures.//I write not knowing how to keep vigil/with the throngs on the streets/risking every breath for freedom,/too many already imprisoned, already gone,/willing to bleed, these aunties,/grandparents,/closest families and friends still in Burma,/loved and alive in thte poems of my students/written life prayer flags waving in the wind."

If a line or phrase resonates with you, we invite you to use it as a starting point to create your own poem.

We welcome you to share your poem with the IPM community here: A Poetry Commons.

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