Reclaiming Skies

Author | Mah-Ro Khan

My family has history with the sky / my father bought us his childhood kites / if you cannot go home, bring home with you / my mother told us that our grandfathers’ souls are there / that one day, ours will be too / that the sky will reunite my family / my brother and I were impatient / didn’t want to wait until death to live there / he loved planes, and I wished to be a bird / we both dreamed of flight / drew freedom in the stars / imagine my shock when I realized / I am the daughter of a country that fears the sky / it is estimated that an average of 28 people die / for every intended target of the drone program / for every target / 28 innocent men, women, and children / made into human sacrifices / there are those who defend the drone program / as though a weapon of destruction is what needs protection here / they say my people teach their youth hatred / they neglect to mention / drones birth orphans parented by fear / marked as living martyrs / collateral damage / ghosts walk the earth as scarred children / carrying the remains of shattered kin / we have done the impossible: raised Pakistani children to be afraid of the sky / the place we believed our final haven / and still, they survive / they play soccer, they play cricket / on ground stained with blood / with soldiers for referees / with the drone’s camera filming the instant replay / but war is not shamed by irony / we cheer for Malala / while bombing the very people she is trying to protect / pretend this is not counterproductive / we give millions in aid money / call it philanthropy / the most effective chains are made from green paper / corrupt politicians refuse to build drainage systems / half of Pakistan is flooding / yet the other half dies of drought / when will my people / cease to be killed a thousand different ways / to learn a thousand different lessons? / when will my people / cease to be the shards of a vase called empire? / our language: a mix of dozens of others / our fractured families spread over continents / remind the world that we are all connected / remind this country / we will have to pay for stolen souls / the drones do not kill terrorists / they only perpetuate them / for each murdered innocent / has a loved one seeking revenge / the Taliban taught us that to fly kites is a privilege / the drones taught us that to love the sunset is a privilege.

About the Author | Mah-Ro Khan is a student, scientist, and writer affiliated with Spitshine Poetry. She writes because she cannot defeat her demons with swords. Mah-ro is currently learning how to live life at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work has previously been published in Blue Minaret.

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