Dilantha Gunawardana


Paris (Through A Victim's Eyes) - Poem by Dilantha Gunawardana

I was surrounded by clouds of expired smoke
It felt like a slaughterhouse
Where cattle are lined and given their last rites
I crouched as far as my torso would fold
And how flexi my lumbar vertebrae contorted
For the very first time in my life
I stood under a leggy table
Wondering how soon the grim reaper
Would visit this place
Already crowded with angels

I heard the splatter of bullets
But waited for the pitter-patter of boots
I wondered whether the gendarmes
Flinging their rifles like the arms of the Moulin Rouge
Would storm the theatre
Perhaps I would be spared, just like Isaac or Moses
- Oh how I dreaded the times I cursed God –
And in this part of Paris, where cathedral domes arch high
And twin towers kiss the sky
A virgin guards over every arondisement
Though now in a blackout
After all hate is darker than midnight
A shrine only a terrorist heart worships
For it is but cowards who hide behind guns
In the absence of chivalry

And two hours afterwards
I stood with my fellow survivors
Parting with both a prayer of thanksgiving
And a requiem for lost souls
After all I stood in the line of grace
In the city of lights
Now relegated to a moon lantern
And fairy lights on starry heavens
Searching for a time warp to heal
After all, there are no doctors of the heart
Just Father Time erasing scabs and plaques
From wounded souls

“How long? ” I wonder
As I looked around to see kisses on cheeks
And shoulders clasping shoulders
And I knew Paris would be no quadriplegic
She will walk once again
On her own two feet and on her own terms
As casts made of Plaster of Paris
Are discarded and limbs are freed
To do what Parisians do best – make love
After all no amount of hate
Can take away her joie-de-vivre
Or oh la la - a little Petite Mort.

Topic(s) of this poem: paris


Poet's Notes about The Poem

Paris Bombings

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Poem Submitted: Monday, November 16, 2015



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