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The Coin: A poem narrating a Syrian true story

Credit: George Tuma

In early 2012, I spoke to a young Syrian-American in his late teens who told me about traveling to Syria in the summer of 2011. Ever since he was a young boy, he had spent his summer vacations in Damascus with his cousins, and even though his parents had asked him not to go that summer he had wanted to see for himself what was happening in their homeland where he had spent so much of his youth. 

The young man told me about a coin that he carried in his pocket and how it had been given to him by an old man while he was there. By the time I met Layth, the revolution had evolved into a brutal assault on civilians, and I couldn’t help but wonder about the fate of the old man who had given him the coin and asked him to pray. 

The Coin 

He came from nowhere
To help the young man up;
A deposit made
In his blessing cup.

Are you OK?
He asked my young friend;
He was too old
To easily stoop and bend.

I’m American;
I’m visiting family here;
I came to observe
And record what I hear.

Why here? Why now?
The old man said;
It’s a dangerous time;
You could end up dead.

He took out a coin
Pressed it into his hand;
Asked the young man to pray
For their troubled land.

So together they stood
Young man and old;
A connection was made,
another story told.

I still have that coin
My friend said to me;
Though I’m safe at home
In the land of the free.

I think of him often
That frail old man;
And I fight for his freedom
As hard I as can.

I’ll go back someday
To help them heal;
Syria’s in my blood
And nothing’s quite as real.

As the blood being shed
The price being paid;
This coin in my hand
And the deposit mode.

January 26, 2012

Ruthanne Sikora
Ruthanne Sikora
Ruthanne Sikora is a full-time caregiver for her differently-abled daughter Lauren, human rights activist, Global Studies student, part-time writer and English editor.


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