My Brother’s Keeper

That little boy who died in a war

They later dabbed ‘senseless’

Is my brother…

That young man who perished holding on to a dream

Of his older brothers

Is my brother

The old man who died in a lonely abode

In exile still yearning for ‘home’

Is my brother

The skinny boy who got shot from behind

Crossing an alien boarder

After dodging similar bullets of his brothers

Is my brother

The veteran fighter who died in prison

And defined defiance

Is my brother

His comrade in exile

Desperately searching for a solution

Is my brother

Grandpa at his granddaughter’s wedding

In a refugee camp where she was born

Is my brother

The professor who looked me in the eye

And asked me ‘why?’

‘Why are we here?’ ‘Why not there?’

Is my brother

The corpse that was washed ashore

Off the Mediterranean

Was my brother

The bones crumbling in the sand

Under the Sahara sun

Was my brother

The young man who hanged himself

In anguished desperation

Is my brother

The hope that was extinguished out of my life

Was my brothers

The vitality that dripped slowly leaving my body

Is my brothers

The dream that diminishes gradually

Is my brothers

The future that slips through my fingers

Is my brothers

That scum of the earth that others call ‘a helpless refugee’

Is my brother

That boy who passed me a glance

From across these lonely streets

Out of lustreless dull eyes

And then quickly bowed his head

And averted his gaze

Is my brother

The angry fighter so frustrated who lashed out at me

Because I looked like my brother

Is my brother

The stubborn man who refuses to offer the olive branch

To a brother

Is also my brother

The prisoner hanging from a tree in a ‘helicopter’

Put there by his brother

Is my brother

And the one who saw all this and walked away

Is my brother too

The one that they gathered to remember

Was my brother

The one that they killed as he tried to flee them

Was my brother

The one they have sentenced to a life of bondage

Is my bother

The one they refuse sanctuary to in their own country

Is my brother

The one they tortured to death in a cage

Because he prayed to a God they reject

Is my brother

They call one a ‘martyr’

The other an ‘absconder’

And the third a ‘nothing!’

I call them all a brother


Selam Kidane

June 20, 2010

“If we are not our brother's keeper, at least let us not be his executioner”

Marlon Brando