Did I tell you how they burned our books,
how my father cried
as our songs winged, red and gold,
over the green valley?
How we children laughed
knowing we had them
written in blood on our hearts!
Later, in my first prison,
beneath a grieving moon
they tried to tear them from me
but my heart would not stop beating.
Alone, I dreamt of home,
remembered the stillness
of the mountain valley,
cradled in the curve
of the motherland’s breast,
like a child. A trusting child
knows only natural sounds;
cocks that crow in the early morning,
the wailing call to prayer…
Our waking rituals
shattered by the screams of children.
Every night in this strange place
I hear the boots
crunching stones outside our home,
rifles beating on the door;
And here, in my second prison –
this grey, loveless town –
I sing those songs, sing them still,
send them soaring,
red and gold,
towards that green valley.