Tuesday, January 12, 2016

In the land of the white elephants

A lone Burmese harp pierces the air
gentle strains as tall coconut trees swaying
outside the bamboo windows

I pin scented white flowers on my black hair

A reminder of my father, one whom I hardly knew
as he was killed when I was just 2 years old

My dead father's name is my amulet

I evoke it now as I steel my chest
for the vicious battles ahead, a long drawn out war 
against military rulers who have sought to silence my voice

Am I not your true daughter, motherland?

I have willingly stayed behind bolted doors
I have paid penance for leaving my 2 young sons and 
devoted husband, now dead, in England 
I turned my back, to blister my knees

After hearing the lament of your sons & daughters

Amidst betel-nut stained streets
Their blood mingled with dark nights of terror
I offered to my own dying mother:
I will not leave
beyond the shores of Bay of Bengal
for my destiny is here 

Am I not your true soldier, motherland?

Your General
A fighting peacock under the silk sarong
Your fearless lion charger
chanting to winds of change 
Come, come
the rice fields are ready
the fishponds are open to rivers

Step by step, and a thousand more 
By my iron fists & jade-stone heart,
I will stitch a truce in your land
abundant of birds flying beyond Andaman Sea

                                                     Aung San Suu Kyi                                                            Picture credit:   here

Posted for D'verse Poets Pub - Persona poem hosted by guest KB ~
I have chosen the formidable woman leader of Myanmar (formerly Burma), Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won the elections recently and is now poised to handle and lead the country after more than 5 decades of military-run government.  She is also 1991 Nobel Prize Winner who has been under house arrest for more than two decades and was separated from her British born husband and family.

You can read more her love story with her deceased husband here and her estangement for 25 years from her two sons here.  I have always followed her journey in the past, and now I am happy to see her in the cusp of change.


  1. You have shown the personality and the strength of Aung San Suu Kyi, a woman who seems to know her destiny and be willing to work toward it step by step!

  2. She is indeed a formidable person and you portrayed her strength and tenderness amazingly. I adore the line:
    By my iron fists & jade-stone heart,

    I am glad she is so strong. Like glass, jade can easily break. Excellent job Grace. It was worth reading through several times.

  3. Grace this was a very well done and powerful piece. The imagery is strong and delicately poignant. >KB

  4. It's reAlly hard for most
    Americans to imagine now
    a real war on homeland
    soils.. but easier to
    Love a country
    when all
    can be
    and one
    iS actuAlly
    aware of iT...

    Strength iN
    KiNd Love of
    and counTry..:)

  5. This is so wonderful. When I lived in France in the early 70's, I was with a woman from Burma who shared with us, first hand, the atrocities that that country went through. Powerful choice to represent.

  6. Beautiful piece, Grace. I feel I know her, now.

  7. My, this one is brimming with real emotions; truth is stranger, & more interesting than fiction. What an incredible take on the prompt. I like the lines /amidst betel-nut stained streets/their blood mingled with the dark nights of terror/.

  8. She sure sounds like one strong person. The winds of change finally come back around for her too, great indeed.

  9. She is one of my heroes, too, Grace and I love this tribute to her. LOVE that, like Mandala, she held her head high through imprisonment and emerged to lead her country. I have followed her story too.

  10. Wow - this is a marvelous poem. Full of such a strong voice, a voice I can really hear. And I love how you paint the image of her country. Very vivid.

  11. i do love when the term 'here' is used appropriately.

    this piece of writing is superb

    gracias for sharing

  12. A very unique view of this complicated woman.

  13. I've always looked up to her and her amazing story. You more than did her justice here in this beautifully laid out and described poem, Grace.

  14. SO informative And heartwarming portrait !

  15. SO informative And heartwarming portrait !

  16. She seems a strong figure with an inspiring story!

  17. I have always admired her and good to see you chose to write about her.

  18. Wow... and I wonder how I could have passed you by yesterday... so many apologies... Her sacrifices have been so big, and I just hope that Myanmar can be a land of the future... we need so much positive news...

  19. We share the same thoughts and feelings about this lady! Felt so happy reading your lines.Thanks a ton!
    I am fine; hope you are doing fine.

  20. What an absolutely amazing woman. I'm in awe of her faith to get through these cruel times. Your poem captures her strength beautifully. It sounded like it came directly from her.
    Have a wonderful day, Grace!
    Lots of hugs to you,

  21. "Am I not your true daughter, motherland?" "Am I not your true soldier, motherland?" These lines are hauntingly beautiful in the context of the entire piece. This is lyrical, gentle, and strong all at the same time....which I suspect is the same about the character of this remarkable woman. Beautifully penned. And wonderful choice for a personna.


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