This is not a feminist poem

This is not a feminist poem
This is not contorted metaphors with neither punch line nor chorus
This is not a feminist poem
It is a woman learning to trade possessions before her lover takes his last breath.
She will never get the chance to say goodbye because those final hours are one match-point away from the backstroke of ravenous relatives.
You see where we come from, widows learn to bid their dead farewell even before they are lowered into the ground.
Because grief requires time and time is a luxury she cannot afford.
But I don’t want to talk about funeral rites or a daughter’s non-inheritance
Because this is not a feminist poem
It is a thirteen-year-old leaking between her legs. She cannot will her waste to stop because culture demands that babies must birth babies even before they are whole.
This is Mercy, waiting to be fully formed before the doctors can fix her. We exchange broken smiles but mine is crackling with questions and I want to ask, how does a six year old ask to be gang raped for lunch after school?
As she fiddles with the beads of a rosary that crawl around her neck, my lips are too drowsy to ask God why?
But I am not trying to not be feminist about this because
This is not a feminist poem
It is the landlord who pays off your father to clench his teeth over choking tears for what his son had done to you.
And your daddy knows that homelessness is too close to home so he washes of your shame with a sponge, dabs your wounds with scripture hoping those words will in turn douse the stench of the breath, erase the handprints that form maps across your skin, and glue together all that is broken of you.
But instead memory has an interesting way of refusing to disappear, so this is how you exist with a tape loop in your head playing over and over again.
I am not here to talk about the kidnap of justice in my country or whom, how and why we have refused to pay her ransom
Because this is not a feminist poem
It is piercing screams of gaping mouths choking as hands stifle their lungs of ambition
It is men in uniform with bellies swollen from bribe, sworn to protect you but tell you that domestic matters are family matters.
So you drink up your pain till you are full, your throat is parched and yet again you begin to thirst for it yet again.
It is walking around with a womb too hollow to bear an heir that you take in the seeds of betrayal wanting it to pull together the remnants of matrimony. This is what it means to be a real woman.
It is the girls who are sent to school only to come back home knowing that their future is dangling between their bodies and their silence, yet deciding which to betray first.
It is those 2am text messages from your boss’ phone that leaves you reminded that you will always loose so you grin, dust it off a shoulder and bear it

You return to your job because this meager wage pays for your little brother’s tuition and your mother’s heart medicine.
But this is not a feminist poem
It is acquainting your self with the normalcy that your body is a minefield, trampled upon by the politics of culture
It is a reminder that you are click, you are bait, you are currency and by virtue of your existence you are only half human never equal, never the same.
It is learning that the heavy medals of your success are meaningless until they are smelted into a ring on your finger
But I told you at the beginning that this is not a feminist poem
It is not a rant or a call to action
It is not a call for your attention
It is not a checklist of everything you already know
This is not a feminist poem
This is a poem about life, about rights, for my sisters who struggle and continue to fight

Inspired by Efe Paul Azino’s This is not a political poem


[Courtesy of the author]

Link to the Italian translation

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