Tag Archives: conflict

The 29th

29 Mar

In the news this week Jamphel Yeshi became the 29th person to self-immolate (set himself alight) in protest regarding the Tibetan conflict.

I have no political stance on the conflict as I do not know enough to form an opinion but seeing the disturbing photos of Jamphel ablaze was disturbing and shocking to the core: a man intentionally burning up his young 27 years, skin not yet peeling but blackening, yet his face appears to be almost smiling… and another photo of him collapsed and engulfed in flame. There were more photos of him burned and, yesterday, when the news came through that he had died I could not help myself but to imagine what may have gone through his mind. I’m trying to understand that total resolve he had chosen that day to so sway his conscious decisions for such a fate. And for what? Are these ultimate sacrifices worth the cost? A question I can only begin to contemplate. 

I have titled the poem “The 29th”  because it sounds unfinished (the 29th what?). There are two reasons for this. Firstly, what word fits? Immolator? Too harsh and I don’t think it’s a word anyway. Sacrifice? Implies political stance. It goes unsaid so you can fill in the blank. Secondly, it is unfinished because… how many more will there be?

The 29th

You were living in exile somewhere
You fiercely did not call home.
You prepared, naming the thing;
Consumed by conviction. That morning
You woke up determined. Buttoning
Up your best, eyes cauterized to the goal.
Rolled up your sleeves, ready, for the final
Ceremony: careful anointing
And for a fleeting
moment you ran and
ran, fast, flew
through the streets:
a smiling pyre
(with smoke and
fire your tail) and
in that untouchable
time you were a flashover
combusting between one
world and the next:
a dancing angel,
fervour’s flame
Then faces blurred. Your clamour
Collapsed. Living ashes.
Your unspoken letter is now a cinder
Riding along the cuff of the wind.