“It’s a surprise…
Come here my sweet angel.”
She shyly steps over to him
And in his palms places her gentle hands,
“Come my doll,
Let me place this blindfold upon you.”
He ties a blindfold across her downcast eyes
and tapes her surprised lips.
“Now, sweet angel of the Lord,
Hold out your right hand to receive your gift.”
There is a sharp swish!
His knife slices through her first finger of trust.
“Want an education, eh?”
Her forefinger will never again index another book.
“Want a career, eh?”
Her signature finger is cut to the bone,
“Want to improve yourself, eh?”
He hacks off her trembling little finger.
“Want to discover yourself, eh?”
He peels off the identity from her thumb.
Her trust, her love, her dreams,
They lie there scrawled in the ink of her blood.
But in time there is a vow made,
She promises to learn to write again.
Her left hand will right the attack upon her rights,
She will resurrect and join the cracks in her dreams.
That was what they called her,
But her name was Phan Thị Kim Phúc,
It spoke louder than the lacerated burn marks upon her back,
The bird plane dropped an egg of fire
and left the stink of the slaughterhouse,
of dead cattle and the sweat of fear leaked through the air
on that dread June day.
She knew the crunch of boots snapping bones
in the wild jungle yard,
Boots that stamped your soul with death.
The barbed wire rose high into the blue sky,
It curled around the camp
in a grip tighter than a vice,
Her home torched to the ground,
Her school scraped off the ground,
In the summer of ’72 they tore her soul in two.
Gunshots pierce the silence of the yawning night,
In the subterranean abyss of the subway
A young life ebbs into the filth strewn sewer,
It is a girl, fair and beautiful with black locks,
Her violator pockets the still smoking weapon and zips up,
He spits, looks over his shoulder and lights a cigarette,
He inhales deeply and in his nostrils he can taste her sweet perfume,
The memory orchestrates a smile
Which once again compels him to look down at her still warm body,
Upon her dress the blood is beginning to congeal,
Her eyes are sightless but they mirror his image in the dead sockets,
He takes another lungful of her succulent youth
And then slithers and melts into the anonymous jaws of the city,
His belly is still encrusted with hunger
And the night is yet young and tender,
His teeth glint by the light of the neon signs.
You, yes you…
You think you know?
Tell me, what do you know?
You can give me facts and figures,
Lists of numbers and statistics,
You speak in a dry dead monotone,
You know this but you don’t feel it.
But know you this…
Yes, every number,
Every dot on that page,
They were people.
People who looked different,
They had the same pearly passions,
The same daily dreams,
The same jolly joys,
The same high hopes.
Into cattle trucks wet with abattoir stink,
Into barbed wire tattooed around veins,
Into cells shrill with apocalyptic hymns,
Into Death’s breathing gas.
Their tales were ours,
There is blood on the wires of history,
Look to it and fear it…
We preach it
but we fail to live it
or wake up and embrace it.
We are the weeping children of far distant desert lands,We are the daughters nourished upon the ink of olive branches,
The stubble of our village was shaved off without news or trace,
Life’s bittersweet aftershave of memory still stings to this day.
We are the children with forlorn hands and forgotten faces,
We are those who have suckled the milk of honey and grief,
Our school is entombed beneath an avalanche of oppressive lies,
Our tongues string and weave the haunting tunes of broken trust.
We are the girls dressed in rags caressed by death’s pernicious smile,
We are the orphans who shelter in cemeteries dug by men of war,
Our eyes sparkle and glow with a kaleidoscopic firework of fear,
The carnation of our youth will be stitched into dry dead wreaths.
We are the sisters who buried the flowers that were our brothers,
We have frolicked under the barbed shadow of death’s high wall,
Our toys are plucked from the palm of dates sweet with our hopes,
The fresh fragrance of deliverance shall one day perfume our nation.