To Name a Lost Sea

‘Kum’. A word meaning dry.
Today I read that the Aral Sea
(So vast a lake that its name was
More than it was meant to be)
Is a desert now. ‘Qum’,
Meaning sand. How quickly
We have changed water
To land. ‘Karakum’, a desert,
Held together by the Amu
And the Syr, rivers both, that fed
This now sanded earth. ‘Darya’,
A word from our childhoods, said
Most often, with ‘aansu’, or ‘daya’.
Let irony feed this reservoir of shame.
The AralKum is now a name.

Old ships litter dry harbours
Cliffs rise from dusty banks.
Camels rest in the shade of wrecks
Tracking the salt of the Aral’s tears.
Like sand in an hourglass,
Memory falls softly, speaking
Of starving nations fed
From the Sea. Now irony
Feeds this reservoir of shame
The AralKum is now a name.AralSea


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