In Sri Lanka: A Poem of Commemoration

07/07/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Colombo. The 26-year conflict between the Sri Lankan government and terrorist forces known as the Tamil Tigers has just ended ten days ago in Sri Lanka's Northern Province.

Already there is art being created about its dramatic conclusion.

Below is a poem printed in the last few days in the Colombo press:

Into This Water, Let Us Sow

Last week, across the lagoon, waded the sea of innocents;
Blood-spattered, salt-drenched, in fragments of flaming saris,
shards of red-splotched sarongs.


Now, as the black smoke rises in the distance from silent guns,
On this water, lulling in the wind, float scraps of
A history of death and twenty-six years of hatred,
Bits of shattered ideology, blasted bone.


Into this water, let us sow.


We will search every inch of this island
For the seeds of a different lotus;
Find it where thin rays of forgetfulness and magnanimity
Have coaxed fragile sprouts, glistening, sun green.


Into this water, let us sow.


And these seeds will weather this salt lagoon bed
Still the risen soil, clear the red waves
And spread their hollow tubers and grow.


To bloom and bloom, this many-petalled lotus,
So easily made rotten with bigotry
Crushed by the burden of association,
We will make anew, this salinated home.

Into this water, let us sow.


May this lagoon fill with thousands of flowers swaying,
Lilting and gasping for light and air, covering the table,
Turning it into a different alter - rewriting its own purpose.

Into this water, let us sow.


Let us sow and hold our breath.

- Ramya Chamalie Hirasinghe, May 19, 2009

Close to 100,000 people died in this three-decade long battle. May the healing begin through reconciliation, and may the arts play a large role in the recovery.