Khaled

It’s four years since the Syrian archaeologist Khaled Al-Asaad was murdered for refusing to give away the location of antiquities in Palmyra as Daesh tore down the ancient city.

I wrote this poem then, and the song which you can listen to below.

Khaled

At what point can one say:
               ‘Preservation is complete’?
which pitted surface smoothed?
which sand-filled tomb exhumed?
 
at a closed junction
               between life and death
man and bird wrestle
above traffic lights. You are
 
no Zenobia
               no Roman house arrest
in exchange for a life’s
surrendered empire. And so
 
finally you kneel,
               a final thought for
chipped faces off sarcophagi
your final restoration
 
wrist-twined
               spectacles
still attached

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