Mothers Sing a Lullaby

(after the 1994 Rwandan genocide)

Mothers sing a lullaby
As the dark descends on trees
Shutting out shadows.
The sensuous voices swish and swirl
Around shrubs and overgrown grass
Hiding mountains of decapitated dead
And the glint of machetes
That slashed shrieking throats.

In these camps without happiness
Mothers maintain the melody of life
Capturing wistful wind
To sing strength into the souls of children
Who have never known
The taste of morning porridge
Or heard the chirrup of crickets in the evenings.

Mothers sing a lullaby
For the staring faces
Who cringe at the sound of footsteps
Whose playmates are grinning skeletons.

Mothers become a lullaby
Silencing the sirens of sorrow
Restoring compassion to the nation.

Link to the Italian translation

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