There is a sound, and it is heartbreaking.
It is the sound of a mother wailing
the loss of a child. It doesn’t matter how
her child was lost; what matters is that
her child is dead.
Do you hear it? It is there, rising and falling
in ululating rhythms like a wind
wailing through walls, windows and trees,
tearing your heart with its agony.
You don’t want to hear it, but you must. It is insistent.
Listen closely. For nine long months she carried and nurtured
her child, labored and then gave birth. And now her child is gone,
taken from her. It doesn’t matter how.
The pain is the same no matter how her child died.
What matters is that her pain, expressed, is heard.
Hear it. Take it in until her wail becomes yours
and changes your heart. Hear it, so that each time
you decide to start a war, or take a life in war, or want
to take a life for any reason, you hear that heartbreaking
sound ululating in your ears and it stops you.
Listen. Can you hear the sound, rising and falling
like a wild wind wailing through city streets and
battlefields? Quiet, now. Listen carefully. Her wailing
calls, demanding our attention.
—Sapporo, 10 February, 2009