Number (for Myanmar)

I wrote this poem a while ago, but am posting it up now in honour of Myanmar’s historic 2015 election results.



I will stop being a number, and start being.

20102010 was the first World Statistics Day, and I learned that
1.03 billion people are undernourished and 1.15 billion people are overweight.
1.4 billion people don’t have clean drinking water, while 80% of the world
believes God exists; it must be all those who have clean water.

For once, the number crunchers could slice a perfect pie chart
Of how many soldiers it takes to overrun a country and keep
Statistics unknown. But we do know that
Numbers are the natural fall-out from any disaster.
When Cyclone Giri landed in Myanmar right after World Statistics Day
It took out 100,000 homes and affected a quarter of a million people.
UNICEF still needs 2.1 million dollars, but that’s one number people are quick to forget.

I will stop being a number and start being.

32 per cent of the people in Myanmar walk below the poverty line,
Villages take weekly turns to have electricity in their homes one week out of two.
Temples are plated gold with millions from rulers who own the natural gas reserves
and elections are nullified with the third largest standing army in Asia.

Because numbers only quantify, they can never measure the degree
of joy to hear someone say, you are free, or a father faded like
a photograph of a better country, or simply speaking of peace to
the crowd who cannot be counted, whose numbers reach for the right

to stop counting the number of decades a country has been
downtrodden, to change hearts and raise people on their knees,
to build together a bright collection of strange victories,
which is the translation from Burmese for Aung San Suu Kyi.

I will stop being a number, and start being.

Author: Marc

Creative educator. Sometime photographer. Fiddler of words.

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