The Groom of Fallen Stars

1: My friend,
You nurtured your conviction
Like your own child.

2: My friend,
Burned your injuries like lamp oil.

3: My friend,
Could lick your own wounds
And resurrect.

4: My friend,
You had to
Drape your own skin,
Sharpen your bone into a needle,
Sew your own outfit,
And look marvelous in it.

5: Go ahead, my friend.
We must stay behind
To heal the best we could
The injuries of this world
Where the stars are falling, one by one.

6: Go ahead, my friend.
We must stay behind
To shield the earth’s wounds
From the many scorching suns
With our bare hands.

7: Go ahead, my friend.
We must stay behind
To write your poetry’s table of content
On the world’s vinyl record of grief.

8: Go ahead, my friend.
On the day the peacock banners
Fly once more along the campus wall
We shall . . .

—Min Ko Naing
(Translated by Kenneth Wong)

Min Ko Naing was a leader in the student group that led the uprising and democracy movement in Myanmar (Burma) in 1988. After his arrest, he spent 15 years in prison, where he was abused and tortured. He was released from prison in November 2004, only to be re-arrested in 2006 for his pro-democracy work. He released in January 2007, but imprisoned again in November of that year. He was released as part of a presidential pardon in 2012. He wrote this poem as a tribute to Taya Min Wai (see yesterday’s poem).