Soldiering On

paraplegic

After 26 years of seeing blood
Spewing out from arteries
They now protest for a few thousand
Rupees folding in their palms
To spit out the scarlet paint of Areca nuts
Made basic with lime

And a sedentary armchair next to a wheel
Chair has a little artefact on which
Betel leaves are kept. Leaves which will never
See a hero’s feet that lay amputated
In the harshest of realities

The story of the betel leaf
Resonates just like the story of the soldier
A leaf of respect and honor chewed
By a soldier who travels in a wheel chair
To protest for a miserly pension that can
Buy some betel leaves and areca nuts

They live through the sable nightmares
And the forgone grunt of a mine
To inhabit a world where they can smile
With lesions in their mouth
Inside a lonely ward in a little town
Called Maharagama

The betel leaf was supposed to embellish
Two feet and held inside open palms
In honored traditions

And not be spewed out as blood.

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Published by

meandererworld (Dilantha Gunawardana)

Dr Dilantha Gunawardana is a molecular biologist, who graduated from the University of Melbourne. He moonlights as a poet. Dilantha wrote his first poem at the ripe age of 32 and now has more than 1700 poems on his blog. His poems have been accepted/published in Forage, Kitaab, Eastlit, American Journal of Poetry and Ravens Perch, among others. He was also awarded the prize for "The emerging writer of the year - 2016" in the Godage National Literary Awards, Sri Lanka for his first collection of poems (Kite Dreams – A Sarasavi Publication), while being shortlisted for the poetry prize. Dilantha is a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and Australia, and shares his experiences from two different cultures. He blogs at - https://meandererworld. wordpress.com/

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