100 Days: A Poetic Response to Wangechi Mutu’s #Kwibuka20#100 Days 81-90

Inspired by the quiet homage to the 1994 Rwanda Genocide that Wangechi Mutu started posting on social media on April 6, I decided to respond. I offer these poetic pieces as a way to think about the way in which we navigate through knowing about and understanding the genocide and other wars that endure.

Here are Days 90- 81 

Day 81
Nine times
Nine times they called out
Nine times, just nine

We know this because each call caused a finger to fall
We know this because there was one finger left
The ringed one
Only the ringed one

Day 82

This is to confirm that there is something to be said

For tying the waist really tight

Tight, tight, tight, tight

Tighter than when spoiling for a fight

Tighter that when getting ready to receive a heavy burden

Tight enough for days that rolled upon days

 

It was the tightness in our waists that kept us going

 

Day 83

We failed to read the clouds

As we had been taught to do in high school

Cumulonimbus chasing cotton balls

Cumulonimbus alone

Cumulonimbus with or without rain

 

What did it all mean?

What did it mean that we failed to read the sky?

It wasn’t in the cowrie shell readings

It wasn’t in the tea

Perhaps Cumulonimbus was a script in the sky

A writing that was not familiar

Not then and definitely not now

 

Day 84

Impressionistic moments follow each other

Like Monet come to life

It’s after two in the afternoon

Now it’s evening

Now suddenly night

 

Food, blanket

No food, no blanket

It’s all the same

 

There were no hundred days

Just a jumble of impressions

Moments that sometimes piled up

On top of each other

Sometimes moments lay side by side

Holding hands

Sleeping hungry

Or without blankets

 

Day 85

And God said: Let there be light

And there was light from the beginning of the world

There was light on this day like all the other days

Every day there was light enough to see everything

We didn’t always need to see

We didn’t need to see everything everyday

 

Day 86

My country belongs to God.

These are our scriptures:

 

Happy shall he be

that taketh and dasheth

thy little children unto the rock

Psalms 137:9

 

Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord

Roman 12:19

 

I will be there

where there are two or more gathered in my name

Christ proclaims in Matthew 18:20

 

Jesus must have a permanent presence in the church

Where the door has been propped ajar for eternity

Jesus Christ must live here

Where congregants were struck in supplication

Pleading for their lives, pleading, pleading for their lives

 

Where shall we find comfort?

Where can we go in this country of God?

 

Day 87

Reconciliation is minding my business

Reconciliation is minding my life

Reconciliation is aimed at my head

Reconciliation leaves me no choice

 

Don’t get me wrong

 

Reconciliation is a grand thing

Reconciliation photographs very well

Reconciliation makes people smile

Reconciliation feels good, dresses well

Writes well, conjures good dreams

 

Reconciliation wants me to wipe my tears dry

To wipe the slate clean — well at least wipe it

It wants me to forget my first born daughter

The one I could not bury

The one whose body I walked away from

Day 88
After all this, today
Another vigorous attempt to divvy up moments equally
Stillness, nothingness
A vacuous attempt to move, to sound, to connect to anyone, anyhow
Time flashes
Time drags
In another couple of months we will begin to grasp
The unending nature of these one hundred days
As nothing except what it was –
A nothingness that compounded nothing into being

 

Day 89

What do crickets know about innocence?

Were they not there?

Did they not see more than we did

Staying closer to the ground than we ever were?

 

Innocence in that ghastly cry –Why?  Why do we do this to ourselves?

Innocence in that other proclamation – Never, never, never again

 

Innocence is power without experience

Innocence is a knowing untempered

Crickets know that there is no innocence on hallowed ground

 

Day 90

How these hundred days

Should be days to think

About reconciliation and forgiveness

To consider the irrationality of ethnic cleansing

To see the phoenix rise again

& grief overcome

To witness humanity & good

& the power of God

To make miracles

 

That ultimately

Commemoration is a crafted affair

A beautiful thing

A symbol of power and resonance

The everlasting flame

 

We don’t have to remember

The empty space in our arms

That our lost children will never fill

 

This is not our liberty

We’re not free to forget

 

 

 

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