Beyond the roses, which detonate from earth in explosive
crimson, the mosque is illuminated by morning light.
Blue and white tiles incandescent, a flourish of lilies against which
the faithful move – women in white burqas like doves,
men in hand-woven shawls encumbering shoulders.
These believers stroll, step out and beyond the shadows
condensed on the ground, dark residue left by gunpowder.
Their lips still flavoured by suhoor, bodies not yet craving
nourishment but braced for cleansing, their hearts
divining purity from worldly activities, inner souls freed
from harm. At one corner, a young boy in a wheelchair,
his legs scarred stumps, extends a hand for zakat.
I conjure the pressure of his soles that day he walked
across a field – perhaps lagging behind playmates
or tending to goats – while from below its surface
the trap sparked forth, entangling him in its fierce release
of metal and energy, shattering him in a split second
of confusion, blood and pain. He smiles at me,
his palm opening, as if in prayer, an aperture for the coins
that now burden my pockets. Exposed to the sunlight
they have the effervescence of fireworks igniting the sky.
As I release them, they are the plumage of the birds
the seller in the courtyard has bartered into the hands
of pilgrims. With these offerings we all are released
from the heat and pain of this charred earth,
our voices, like wings, vibrate in the air, repentant with chant.
By: Blaine Marchand, Award winning poet, author and program manager. ‘Zakat’ is from his 2008 book Aperture, based on his international development experience in Afghanistan