The summer I was seven
I made perfume from petals
Rode my bike down to the sea

Now seven is your number
And it hasn’t been like mine
You heard parents’ whispered fears
Felt walls crumble, choking dust
Emptied wordless red goodbyes
Seeing, unseeing, fleeing
To a place that isn’t home

Tonight on Beirut’s corniche
I walk hastily away
As you offer me a rose
And the thorns pierce deeper still


Girl of Sorrows/The Rose Seller

Requiem for All Souls

Passing the college at evensong, I go inside

Take a seat behind hushed voices

Candlelight, expectant


All Souls Day: Let us remember


He slowly recites their names

Henry, Peter, Hugh – those they’ve known and lost:

But I want to remember you

You, the child crushed as the classroom fell down, brought to rubble

A damaged classroom is pictured after shelling in the rebel held town of Hass, south of Idlib province

You, Aleppo’s son, home and body shattered

You, daughter of Homs, caught by sniper’s fire

You, child of a mother whose weeping knows no end

Let us remember you

Earlier, a flurry of wind prompts a shower of autumn leaves

Amber-red, crimson, gold

Twirling dancing ground-wards


And now I wish I could wait here, perpetual in this stillness

And hear each of you patiently called by name


But like the leaves you are too many

Each one once created and singing its beauty now falling, dying, crushed


Let us remember

And as I remember you

I also remember him:

The one who knows each leaf, each child by name

Not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care

The one who weeps with us, and calls us:

Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin…

Let us remember

Each one that falls goes back to the heart of God



Let us remember

Beatitudes for Syria

Empty ground, nothing left

A boy in an ambulance, a boy on the beach


Who dares to dream any more?

The lonely, the broken, the hopeless

A mother lost by chance – wrong place, wrong time

Unbreakable silence of rock and stone


Somehow you’re blessed – kingdom comfort

And a child is welcomed, a family known

Grass springs up from broken soil

Undemanding, unnoticed, underfoot


But strong, resilient, green with life –

As a child’s laughter breaks through

You’re hungry and thirsty for things to be different

Each child safe, each child known


You take them by the hand and show them grace

Grace that fills you and flows through you

And as you turn your face towards the sky

Mercy falls and makes things new


As you make things new for the child who had no one

You are her someone

Pure heart – you shine with a light you know now

more intimately in this darkness


Light that fills you and each space you move in

And the space you’ve created for the child who was lost

And suddenly in this ‘hopeless’ place

Beauty springs up, unexpected, unasked for


Blessed are the peacemakers, heralding the birth of something new

You who welcome children – the children of God.


Illustrations created with Syrian caregivers working with children in conflict-affected areas of Syria