Thinking of the Picture of the Syrian Child, Drowned

Thinking of the Picture of the Syrian Child, Drowned

One knows instinctively what it is to carry
such a boy,
let’s say from a car
after a long trip’s drive,
the slumbering dangle
of the little lower legs
weighted by shoes that look almost as large
for his feet (fine as a chirping bird’s)
as his small child’s head
for his small child’s body,
the rims leaden
about the slim ankles–

Someone strapped them on
so carefully, bending down
before the boy,
someone wanting to keep those shoes
from getting lost, someone wanting to keep
the boy’s feet warm, safe.



Draft poem about the very sad story of the Syrian refugee family, capsized off the coast of Turkey; the photo of one of the drowned sons, Aylan Kurdi, age 3, has become very famous.  I am not posting a pic here.  This poem is still being revised; I am linking to The Bardo’s 100TPC event. 


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16 Comments on “Thinking of the Picture of the Syrian Child, Drowned”

  1. hedgewitch Says:

    Yes–not a fan of that picture or the way his cruel death has been turned into today’s flavor of media fodder, to be forgotten as quickly as the last outrage(I think it was Cecil the lion, but more may have intervened), but I think what you describe so feelingly here is the first human reaction before the squalor of sensationalism and exploitation set in–how one instinctively reacts to the senseless, wounding death of a helpless child–one sees one’s own, he becomes one’s own loss, as indeed he is. Perhaps this poem will serve as a more permanent and telling reminder of our need for compassion, and the importance of the perpetual need to work for peace and tolerance.

  2. I like the restrained tenderness in your poem. For me, it’s the right tone. Even though (maybe because) I cry when I think of that boy. I first saw the photo on twitter. A guy I follow (and maybe should stop following) who is always pushing extremely provocative political positions posted it. I thought, “classy move.” Then I started seeing it everywhere. Hard to know what people are trying to say to one another by posting it over and over. I appreciate the restrained, respectful, tender tone you have brought to this baleful sharing event.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Thanks. As I explained to Hedge, i am in the weird or lucky not to have great access to the media in much of my life so I miss out on some of the media blitzes. I know this was all over and felt that maybe I shouldn’t write about it as a result, but it is just so very sad and one can’t help but moved. Horrible to think of the sensationalism. Thanks again. K.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thank you much, Mark. So sad. I cry too. I tried replying before but my internet access a mess and it came out as anonymous! Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful comment. K.

  3. X Says:

    Several years ago I buried my cousin’s child. The coffin was so small. It did not take many pall bearers to carry at all. Marrying that to the image of carrying just a sleeping child is effective. If only the dead were just asleep. I guess that would be any parents hope.

  4. lynn__ Says:

    Heartbreaking…this draft may be some small remembrance of him.

  5. Jamie Dedes Says:

    This story is so sad and haunting. If there’s any good news out of it, it is that it has moved some countries and citizens to look at what else they can do to help refugees and to a call for respect for refugees.

  6. Jamie Dedes Says:

    k. On Sept. 26 we are doing 100,000 Poets for Change at The Bardo Group’s “The BeZine” … on the blog that day hosted by Isreali poet, Michael Dickel. Reader participation. Our theme is poverty, but the refugees are in poverty, so it would be approrpriate to include this. You can link in relevent poems that day through Mr. Linky (instructions will be in the post) or simply by dropping your link in a comment. I hope you’ll join in. I’ve been posting details on my blog and also on “The BeZine” blog.

  7. M Says:

    a fine tribute, k; as Mark notes, restrained, tender, intimate; and as Hedge notes, he is our child, too. devastating ~

  8. whimsygizmo Says:

    Aaaaaaah. I have a son (now 12). This cuts deep. You have brought it straight home, sharp and beautiful.

  9. Jamie Dedes Says:

    Good to read this again and thank you, k., for sharing it with us or 100TPC. xo

  10. Bodhirose Says:

    I think the restrained way in which you present this boy’s death makes for even a more profound feeling of the senseless loss. I think of Mira and how I so carefully put on her shoes… This boy was tenderly cared for and loved. Very sensitively done, Karen.
    Gayle ~

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