Tears

I saw tears down your cheeks
sparkling like diamonds,
beautiful like shining stars
in a clear night sky.
I saw sorrow
dancing in tune with your sobs.
My heart beats faster, my lips tremble.

Then I saw courage,
confidence and determination,
peering from behind the sorrow.
How cruel, how inhumane!
So high, so huge
this partition between us.
For so long!

But in spirit we are one,
as always,
bound by unbreakable bonds
of love and longing for justice.
Neither this prison wall
nor a hundred years of incarceration
shall diminish my love.

Said Zahari*
Hari Raya card to Sal
20th November 1969

*Said Zahari was imprisoned without trial under Singapore’s Internal Security Act for 17 years. The poem is reproduced with kind permission from Tan Jing Quee, Teo Soh Lung and Koh Kay Yew eds. Our Thoughts Are Free:  Poems and Prose on Imprisonment and Exile, Singapore, Ethos Books 2009

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