Arts Illustrated


By Anitha Murthy

Arts Illustrated Poetry Contest, Second Runner-up

They told us lies,
every single one of them.
They hugged and tucked us in.
They told us all will be well,
as they turned off the light
and went into the night.

In the darkness we lie,
under the spangle of nightmares
hearing the guns and screams
smelling the smoke and burning
tasting the poison in our waters
feeling the earth shift beneath us
rumbling, tumbling
feeling the skies rent above us
fermenting, fomenting.

And in the morning we look upon
the redness through the window.

Dead fish float around dead boats
Dazed birds hop about,
still looking for their nests
in black burnt hollows.
And sad kites hang themselves
with their broken strings –
the corpses of soaring hope.

War songs are the only music we know,
as we trundle along these bloody paths.
Relentless wheels grinding down,
kneading our lives into the mud.
This damaged journey we make
in a ruined land that begs for mercy.

Yes, they told the children lies,
every single one of them.
They told the children all will be well
And then –
they turned off the light.

About Anitha Murthy

Anitha Murthy is a Bengaluru-based software consultant who also dabbles with writing in many genres, right from short stories and poetry to humour and travel. Her latest books for children have been published by Pratham and Talking Cub (Speaking Tiger imprint). She loves books and is a partner-cum-librarian at Cosy Nook Library, a children’s library in Bengaluru.