You Are My Hero

by Mark Chmiel

“… le dur désir de durer…”
–Paul Eluard

“You are my Hero”
Yes, that’s what I inscribed

In your copy of
The Book of Mev

No, I am not putting you on a pedestal
Proclaiming you a paragon

Who needs that?
Not me.

What I need from time to time
Is to look in your eyes

And see a radiant survivor
Someone still standing still feeling

For you
To live two years in Cairo

To endure eight hundred harassments and insults
To move in and out of those detention centers

To hear the stories of statelessness
(an unrecognized hell on earth)

To see irrefutable evidence of human indifference
and not finally shut down

To have your body sometimes “in”
but your heart and mind not “of” the rarefied world of academia

To recognize your hero
in a boy whom no one else cared for

To care for that one human being
stuck in multiple prisons at the same time

To recognize that what he needed was to look in your eyes
And see an ally, a friend, a sister, a human being still feeling

To become a pain-in-the-ass advocate
There in the kingdom of concrete and iron

You, who have lived intimately with affliction
You, a veteran of the long loneliness

You, seven times down
You, eight times up

You are my hero

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