Adeela Suleman writes: My work is profoundly shaped by the way in which violence is performed, experienced and remembered. The more heinous the violence, the more beautiful its memorial. In contemporary Pakistan death surrounds us, nameless, faceless and countless. In Karachi up to 12 people a day die in gangland and politically motivated murders.
The birds are dead. They make a pattern, a simple pattern that silently repeats itself. Silence haunts you, silence is disturbing. The delicate sparrow is a symbol and their shadow on the wall a reminder of the fragility of life.
After all it’s always somebody else who dies
The headless warrior still stands strong, holds his shield,
grips the tall lance, two narrow ribbons flutter.
Reeds, flowers and grasses part for his feet.
A memorial captured in carved wood stained green,
the colour that pleases the prophet.
Hand beaten and hand beaten from behind, through
chasing and repoussé, the stainless steel sparrows
that tumbled to their death. On the left 420 sparrows,
their beaks and feet touching, all held together.
On the right the same number of sparrows,
a shiny, shiny stillness.
My poem was a response to Suleman’s sculptures. It appeared in Building Bridges, an international anthology edited by Bob Beagrie and Andy Willoughby, published by Ek Zuban in 2017.