What the camera doesn’t show when the child lies still,
it cannot show; for it does not see, up there,
too far to catch the details—the wrenched-off shoe;
the tiny puffs of sand that form dark clouds;
the torn dirt-white of the salwar khamis; the chill
that runs across an adult’s watching face
that suddenly explodes in frantic prayer
to guard against this deadliest of crowds.
What can the camera say? What can it do,
as fonts of blood too distant for the eye
to ascertain, to worry on, to trace
around the gasping child whose life has run
in drops; in rivulets; in pools? Why?
Why does the camera — watching as the gun
spits out reveille in the valley — deny,
refuse to see the truth that marks this nation?
Is it just a lack of magnification?
If you have any comments on this poem, Nigel Holt would be pleased to hear from you.