Rachel Tallon


Doaa Al Zamel and her fiancé, Bassem, were Syrian refugees living in Egypt who sailed across the Mediterranean Sea in a smuggler’s boat to pursue a better life in Europe.  Tragedy struck when pirates damaged the vessel and the boat sank, claiming nearly 500 lives, including Bassem’s.  After four days, Doaa became one of the eleven survivors, but only because she was determined to save two little girls who had been given to her when their families drowned.


Thousands of kilometers, over borders and
starving for salvation, life calls us to escape,
Save your brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and lovers.
Save your humanity, your soul, yourself.

Men and women scared of our reality become deaf
when we wail of injustice.  Mothers mourn for
yesterdays, fathers fight for tomorrows,
and their children persist in the present.

We are the side effects of war.
Waves leave salty licks between
the cracks in parched skin and
slaps the blistering plastic saving
one, two, three lives from a temperamental tomb.

Faces of men, women, and children
fall under the watery curtain,
then bob up with wide eyes because
death deceives the weary with false peace.

Eleven of us know the harrowing tale
that transformed survivors of turmoil
into victims of tragedy, rescued from war
only to be butchered by liberation.

My girls, strangers until trial and tribulation
pushed little bundles of saviors into my arms,
were my debt to life to forgive my fiancé
and me for marrying inside our peoples’ grave.