Bruises like Countries
Lani O'Hanlon

And Maria is with you now as you go about your day
though you wanted to screen your eyes,
like the photograph of that Syrian girl
with her hand covering the eyes of her doll.
You couldn't see that horror, just the child looking
at whatever they were doing but hiding it from her doll.

Long hair screened Maria's face, turned away
from the camera on his phone- her naked body-
bruises like countries on the ocean of her flesh.
He sent this photograph to a friend,
wrote underneath; 'I have her under control.'
Pressed send and he's outed now on facebook.

In Greece, in the camp, the children
made an animated film about a bird with a beak full of water
trying to put out a forest fire. 'What are you doing?'
The other birds asked, 'those drops won't help.'
But I'm doing my best' the bird said, so they joined in
and seeing this, the sun began to cry, put out the fire with tears.

When they first showed those silent movies
in Ireland, the children and even the adults
went behind the screen to meet the actors
they'd seen. They really thought it was
possible to step through the projection, talk
and shake hands with Charlie Chaplin, Carmencita.

You try to reach into the screen, write letters, poems,
share and sign your name over and over, your mouthful
of water; and when John comes home from his job
working flat out with the perpetrators
of domestic violence, you make him soup.
Hold him close in the flickering light.