“Two Tibetan Teenagers Set Themselves on Fire in Southwest China”
–New York Times
October 7, 2011
There will be no memorial.
Your skin will be the first
to protest the crackling of its own burning,
this your last offering to your beloved Tibet.
I lay in my bed of America
my consciousness budding from a dream state,
but I can swear I hear you peeling.
Your sacrifice so absolute at an age where the kids I teach
still commit slapbox hit and runs
against their crushes in hallways,
they talk in words big enough to swallow them
like their mothers’ coats.
But you protest with your own hair follicles
each one fizzling into ether.
Your revolution buried deep under protesting nerves
firing warning signs at sensory receptors,
each cell that transitions into ash
Even at 18 and 19,
in America where those your age
revel in adolescent discovery,
you dowse yourself in flames
for the country of your birth.
Even at 18 and 19
you give your flesh,
though news of your protesting mutilation
will never be resurrected
on the front pages of Chinese newspapers.
But here in my bed,
I read about how your skin peeled back
into a dusty grey whistle in the wind.