100 Days: A Poetic Response to Wangechi Mutu’s #Kwibuka20#100 Days 61-70

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 61 – 70 as they come

 

Day 61

Incredulity is a soft-paced wonder

& in the thick of days

Memory is a slippery thing

 

What do we remember from those one hundred days?

What happened on the tenth day or night

Might have well happened today, or yesterday

Incredulous is word from an innocent space

It is tepid, blubbery sometimes

because everything can happen and everything did

 

Day 62

Unless you believe in the eye of the needle

This kind of poverty will never be about material

It won’t be about ragged clothing

or mud huts with broken walls

or river blindness

or murram roads

or bad humoured fields that hoard curses

and promise that there won’t be a harvest this year or next

 

This isn’t the poverty of sleep

or for that matter, dreams

 

This is my deep loss, my poverty:

He will never touch my hand again

He will never touch my hand

 

Day 63

Walter says life is hard

He says that there is nothing we can do about it

Walter says I have to be happy to be alive

 

Walter says to be alive is better than being dead

Be happy, Walter says

Be happy to be alive

 

If being dead is not all that it’s cracked up to be

Then what was that all that rush about?

For my happiness?

 

Day 64

There have been three so far

Three men who walk with your gait

Who turn, head first, the way you used to

Walk like you did, sauntering like a cat

 

Laugh with your laugh

Flick the wrist the way you used to

just before you pointed your finger to make a point

 

All three men wore your face for a moment

Lighted mine up

 

You mean to say?

 

And then you were gone again

and the men were just ordinary men

doing ordinary things

 

Three imposters

Three who acquiesced to your tricks of reminding me

that you used to be by me

Day 65

Often times I want to become words

I want to inhabit forgetting as a state of being

 

Other times I think that if we wore a cloak of silence

Then our invisibility would not be seen as repair

or a sign that everything was good

 

The problem of becoming silence is that silence doesn’t exist

 

It wasn’t ever completely silent

Nothing stopped to pay attention

Nature chattered on, busy with life cycling

And subsumed us into the process

Day 66
Sometimes I want to melt into the earth
I want to imagine that some time in the future
Children will run over the soil that I’ve become

Day 67

Some days
I want to stare at the sky
Perhaps I can learn something, anything
Some days I think about how important the sky has become
I think about it so much and in so doing, I make it exist
I make the sky an endless and expansive backdrop of blue

 

If there was a sky, how could it witness what it did
& maintain that calm hue?

Day 68

There’s no denying that these haunted days

Are not necessarily days of grey

There are flowers everywhere

Beauty is always undeniable

These hundred days are haunted days not grey ones

These hundred days are filled with ghosted moments

just like every day

 

Day 69

The world turns as it does

Spinning on its own axis and then around the sun.

Perhaps this galaxy is also spinning around something bigger

Perhaps all the worlds spin in order to avoid dealing with the numbers:

 

Fourteen

Three

All of them

Six from my in-laws

and all of my siblings, parents and their children

Twenty seven

Thirteen

Everyone

Everyone

All of them

Six

Nine

Twelve

My husband and all my children – seven in all

Two

Nineteen

I don’t know

I can’t count anymore

Nobody came back

I don’t know if they ran away to safety or

If they’re just all gone

 

Day 70

Too close for comfort when everyone around looks like you.

Too close when they speak your language

Too close when you’re from the same house

Same meal at the table

Same sofa

Same containment of the heart

 

We became other people

We were them, those ones

And in being slaughtered and reported as slaughtered

We lost any claim to intimacy or self

Even animals don’t commit slaughter

 

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