Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Suicide Note


  This is inspired by the barbaric tradition that exists in some cultures of marrying off young girls into what is basically a life of servitude and sexual slavery. I've focused on Afghanistan for the purpose of this poem, one of the worst countries in the world to be born a woman, according to several sources.

  Research into this practice has revealed that girls are married off as young as 5 in Afghanistan, but this poem assumes the voice of a girl who would have been married off between the ages of 11 and 13. Since it can be assumed that an Afghani girl, denied any access to education, will not be able to write such a note as this, imagine instead that she gained access to a recording device and left these final thoughts for her husband:

Suicide Note


i

My Dear Beloved,

When you find this,
                                I will be gone.

                Your brothers will have
        dragged me from our home
    by the hair and cracked open
my skull with jagged grey stones.

                                I will be dead.

I know you will not miss my presence,
            my face, my touch, my words.
    You never saw me
                    as more than just fertile ground,
                a place only to sow your rage.
        So many times you broke
that soft ground, driving in your plow
    again and again till blood welled up
                                    from the furrow.
            Even when life took root,
        you continued to drive in your plow,
                turning gentle red shoots
                                    back to oblivion.

    I am there now,
                                with my unborn.

                And into that oblivion
        I will have also taken your seed
                            and your plow.

                                                Yes,
        you will have taken tea
from my hands, just as always. Except
    this time laced with crushed dreams
            from your father’s private stash.
                        As you slept,
                I will have tied off your malice
with the tenderness of a lover,
            then with one sudden flick
                of my slender, scarred wrist
    I will have spilled all your seed
        and unhinged the plow forever,
                            leaving only the ass.


ii

My Dear Beloved,

I was but a child
                            when you took me
        from my home, my family.
    The smile of innocence still lit
            like a lantern my small face.
                Dreams of self determination
                        still shone like a beacon
                    through my pearl grey eyes.

    Now years have passed
            in the confines of our union,
        wishing on stars through the open
                window when summer nights
cooled the oppressive heat of day.
    It has been so long here, hidden
            away behind these dusty, dull
        tapestries, that I hardly remember
                                    the feel of sun.

    I am sure I must be a woman now,
                    or nearly so.
        But is a slave even human,
                        never mind a woman?

Somehow the entirety of my existence
                    had become payment
        for a debt older than the elders,
                debt my family owes even now,
    debt still owed by nephews yet to be.

    When I overheard your first wife
            complain that you were to wed
                        yet another child,
years of black despair turned
        to blinding white purpose.
                I would protect that child
                    from your relentless hunger,
                                    whatever the price.


iii

My Dear Beloved,

If I succeed in my final act,
        that poor child will be saved,
                                    at least from you.
            What reason would you have
                                for a fresh new field
                without seed to sow
                        or plow to till?

                            Perhaps now
            in the truest spirit of matrimony
                    we will share in all things.
        For you will know my pain.

    You will wear like a flame
        the withered rose of my shame.
                You will bear my despair
            through to your last breath
                    as demurely you peer
from the palpable shadows
                            of my isolation.

    My hopelessness will chew
        through your stomach
                and every time you catch
the eyes of a brother turning away
            my terror will gnaw
                    at your weakening bones.

        You will hold my grief high
    like a torch in the night
            and my sorrow will whittle
away at your flesh until your cheeks
                sink in to reveal the full
                    extent of my trauma.

            Yes, my dear husband, you
will wave the banner of my defeat
    over your head, each day filled
        to bursting with my endless
                dread. And no matter how
            hard and long you scream
    to the stars, Allah will never
                    bring peace to my rage.

  I hope for an end to this barbarism, and I hope that all who suffer and endure this horror will be freed from their bondage and some day know peace.

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