Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Poem for April 19 and 20 -- Somayyah

Working on this poem, inspired by a story my son shared about a woman theatened by two policemen so that her husband would withdraw his complaint about them.


What we call groan
rope straining
between boat and wharf

better describes
that taut heart tether
that pulls at its mooring

vessel constrained or released
without our consent.
What we call sigh

better describes
wind caught in the sail
our lungs tightened

to bear expectations,
only to expel the unbearable
as gulls scream and circle.

What do we call complaint
in this land of blind happiness
restricted to the few?

A woman is near a wharf
where the fellucas are tethered
below the scream of circling gulls.

She will have acid thrown into her face
and her husband will have every bone broken.
The policemen will consider that this
should take care of the complaint against them.
They have not decided what to do about
the 13 year old son.

Other poem (4/19)



Somayyah is walking
near the train station in Ramses Square
where there used to be a colossus
and where feminist Huda Shaarawi
shocked the public in 1923.
Now It’s 2010, and you can imagine
the scream of train whistle, city scramble.

This isn’t Springtime in Northeast America
where forsythia shoots into bright stars
and bells of hyacinth turn your head
but Cairo, where my son
is translating this report.

Two policemen
accost a woman called Somayyah.
They light cigarettes, blow smoke
into her eyes. One pins her down
the other rips off her veil
and a sudden flash of metal
bursts as he says

Today, we’ll just shave your head
and you will tell your husband
to retract his complaint.

They curse her husband
with each lock of her hair
spilled to the street.

Next time, they say,
if your husband does not cooperate
we will douse your face with acid.

But that is not enough
they stub out their cigarettes
on her chest.

And my son tells me,
as he proofreads the words,
how he can smell the burnt cotton,
singed skin.


Abby E. Murray said...

wow. this is powerful. is this your writing or your son's? if it's yours, has he written about this story? wow.

k.d. jospe said...

Hi Abby -
It's my writing, and of course, my invention, but based on an email my son sent me -- he is translating for a human rights organization and this was one of the stories. "douse your face with acid" was his word --
I added the smoke in her face and the last stanza.
Thanks for commenting!