Syria, Syria

We did not know the young doctor and his wife.

We were sailing down the Nile and having dinner together on the upper deck twenty-two years ago. There was a warm breeze and an atmosphere of relaxed pleasure. Falucas in the distance glowed from the sun setting over their bows.

We had spent the day at Edfu with the God Horus in his temple.

Today as Syria is disintegrating, ordinary people are being bombed, raped and murdered. I think about the young doctor and his wife with whom we had dinner low those many years ago. Are they alive? Are they all right? Where are their children? She had been pregnant on that trip down the Nile.

We enjoyed one another’s company, dining together, socializing, just being. He was a good man.

In the Tomb of the Kings he was responsible for saving the life of an old man in near cardiac arrest, an old Jew.

We all played together, enriching one another’s lives taking pleasure in each other’s company for days. These were European Jews, Israelis originally from Yugoslavia, France, Italia and other countries, Jewish children, refugees of WWII and the Holocaust.

Two young Americans, two Syrians and about 6-8 old Israelis hanging out on a boat going down the Nile visiting the ancients.

Not long after awaking the next morning our boat sank. We were hung up in a series of locks while navigating a dam. When we finally pushed through, there was a gaping hole in the hull, the boat filling up with water very quickly. We were rescued by the Egyptian Navy and never saw each other again.

But I think of them today. I know that most if not all of the Israelis are gone. Then I think of the doctor as his country is in ruins. I wonder if he is alive – does he practice medicine today?

Is he an enemy of the state or a part of Bashar al Assad’s inner circle? I am sad when I think of him and his family. He gives to Syria a very real face of war in a way that the nightly news cannot do.

Two years now and 70,000 dead. Stirring and poignant headlines daily:

The Guardian: Syria: Bashar al Assad interview to be broadcast – live updates.
Milwaukee (AP): Parents talk about journalist kidnapped in Syria.
India Today: Armed and Courageous: Meet Syria’s women rebels.
Philadelphia Enquirer: The hopes and fears of secular Syrians.
USA Today: Obama warns of extremist threat in Syria.

Two years into the war and 70,000 dead. War again taking its toll on a people on its children. One man destroying an entire country, greed and power at the core of his soul.

Many have become refugees on the borders of neighboring countries, living in squalid conditions with some but little water and food.

Some have left bombed out homes and towns taking refuge in ancient forsaken cities that look bombed out themselves. They live underground in caves with dank air and little food.

They took with them remnants of their possessions; a torn blanket, a doll without her left foot, one large bent aluminum pot, a fork and spoon, glass jars and two pillows.
What will become of these people? Will the massive and significant government armed forces intent upon their destruction destroy them?

I think of the doctor, is he still alive? What side is he on? Sadness fills me yet again. Tears fall yet again for another war.

Syria, Syria another war, another loss.

This poem is posted at dVerse

26 thoughts on “Syria, Syria

  1. it’s always the people that connect you with a country, give it a face as you say… what a story and i can understand the pondering of what has become of them

    • War … everywhere! Everywhere! Yes, Claudia you are really correct. When having met and appreciated one from another country they really do put a face upon that war.

  2. ugh…hard to think on…the wars…the toll of life they take and the sides people ultimately choose in them as well…we see numbers and that seldom hits as much as when we put a face on it…or know someone involved and the feelings run right in…but we should be concerned with wars…and all life lost…and for what…

    • Brian you are right! I had an experience (spiritual) in 2005. A very difficult experience that led to my study of war and a deeper feeling for combat soldiers and for those lost and or maimed – to war.

  3. I have been reading about the rape and killing of women and children. It is very sad that this is happening and the country is now in ruins ~ I hope your friends are safe ~ Thanks so much for visiting my blogs Raven ~ Have a lovely day~


    • Grace you say that you have been reading about the rape of women and children. Is this a special area of great love and sympathy for you – as war is for me?

  4. You prove a point I’ve often contended: If we travel, meet people from different places and learn about their lives and land first hand, we will not want to war with them. We will want to seek peaceful solutions. Well written, this.

  5. I am not surprised that you wonder about the doctor. I think once we have met someone from another country / another culture we feel much more deeply for that country as it now has a human face. It is not just something anonymous on a news broadcast. The whole situation in Syria is tragic, and there seems to be no good answer presenting itself. I DO hope the doctor IS okay.

    • Mary – your words: “we feel much more deeply,” are so important to me. I was given the duty of “feeling deeply” back in 2005 through a spiritual experience that I had. this experience introduced me to war and combat veterans. I went on to study war and work as a volunteer for two years with veterans. I write about war in much of my poetry. Thank you.

  6. The people we meet leave imprints on us that’s for sure…as the doctor and his wife did for you…and it does bring a personal connection to the horrors facing Syria. So often we can feel emotionally distant from these wars as we watch them on television as they seem so far away. Poems like this one tend to bring home the story more so than news reports. A terrific poem and I do hope your friends are okay…let’s hope there will be an end to this senseless war.

  7. I have nothing to add except to say, I hope your friends are ok too and are somewhere safe. It’s always a concern when one’s friends happen to be in troubled parts of the world.

  8. A very moving piece, full of truth and insight.
    And at the end – for me – such a huge sense of helplessness… how can we help?
    And yet I know that for us, we have the choice to love or hate everyone involved. And hating the perpetrators doesn’t bring peace to our hearts or to the world…

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