100 Days: A Poetic Response to Wangechi Mutu’s #Kwibuka20#100 Days 71-80

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 71 – 80 as they come

Day 71

Who says alas in the presence of betrayal?

Who dizzies away, swirling skirts & claims of nausea

Alas, alas, all the hand wringing!

 

It shouldn’t have been this way?

It shouldn’t?

 

It shouldn’t have been forms the dregs from the past

 

It shouldn’t have been this way

 

Would it have been better that all this was lobbed at your head?

Would it have been better if yours was the stuff of our nightmares?

Day 72

The difference between the top screw

and the bottom screw is this: direction

 

We are squeezed in by the past and the present

Everything is relative, they say

God and religion and offer escape from the screw

in the name of forgiveness, reconciliation & clean heartedness

 

Be like Jesus, forgive

Be like Jesus, remember to pray and to pay taxes

Be like Jesus, wear robes,

Have your first cousin shout in the streets about the second coming of yourself

Be like Jesus, hang out with prostitutes – love the sinner and all that

Above all be like Jesus and demand an answer in the moment of your cross

Why, God, have you forsaken us?

Day 73

There are witness stones along all roads

Between Jinja and Kampala

The road to Damascus

The roads leading to Kigali or Rome

Even the road less travelled

The old majesty of Kenyatta Avenue

Khao San, Via Dolorosa

And the Sea to Sky highway

where every few steps they say

is marked by the blood

of a foreign and indentured worker

 

Did you ever know stones in the road to scream?

They did in those days, you know

They still do sometimes

Day 74

In thirty- nine days there will be no more hindsight for sure

Today already there’s hardly any

No foresight

No insight

No encryption

 

In thirty-nine days, like today

There will be the same dullness about

The same powdery taste to everything

The same floaty feeling — the eerie pull to something beyond now

 

Ants keep busy

They have figured out that life is for living

And death is for dying

 

There is no space for those of us

Who are not dead and have yet to be resurrected

Day 75
There is evidence that this was a conspiracy of silence:
the insistence of green grass
the luminosity of a full moon
the leathered skin of the dead
the smile of skulls
flowers
the roar of the rushing river
endless, endless hills

If there was a shocked response
If this was an unnatural state of being
If this was a never, ever kind of situation
Why didn’t the world turn upside down?

Day 76

Another angle would have you believing that this is how it went down

This and specifically this.

And they will be right.

This is how it went down:

 

There were days upon days

Days upon days

Days upon days

Days upon days

Days that never seemed to end

Who’s to say when the first of a hundred days begun?

Day 77
We tried to sing but ended up croaking
We who used to be songbirds
In time, our throats had gotten dry

This is what happens when you start counting
Days in hundreds from a date that never was

Day 78

Insouciance must be blue

How else could we explain a sky that witnesses
And still insists on magical hues of its self?

Insouciance has to be blue
From royalty to madness
From the marked maleness of babies
To those that stayed death
From indigo at midnight
To the peasant hue of the mother of God
Another young woman to whom a hole in the pale sky announced
That she would bear a child
That she would bear
A boy dressed in madness

How else can we explain the resonances, echoes and exceptions?

The mother of God in us mothers of sons who had to be killed
& God in the mothers whose sons had to be killed

Day 79

A piece of cloth in a breeze

A clump of mud

A memory of desire

A broken yellow pencil with black stripes

Staedler Noris HB2 Made in Germany

A small stone

A clump of grass

A day

A pinched nerve

A delicate smell

A hill

A faded sign above the shop

Reads oca Cola It’s the Real

A child runs across the way

A list of jumbled images

 

None of which takes me away long enough to forget

 

Day 80

There is something inconsequential about all of this

One foot in front of another

One foot in front of another

To what end?

 

A nothing in front of a nothing

Round a round

Round a round

 

Never again and reconciliation

Like wayward birds about my head

Round a round a round a round a round

 

Blindfold me or not

Here’s another spot on the map

Where people are walking

One foot over another

One foot over another hundred days

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