The Poetry Thursday prompt is to write a poem using words you either love or hate. Inspired by the courageous women of the Congo and Rawanda - who have suffered unimaginable horrors at the hands of cowardly soldiers - this poem is about hope triumphing over despair:
They sing "We will never be broken,"
these women of formidable strength
Men tainted with evil tried to shatter their bodies,
but could not crush their proud spirits.
Tales of unimaginable horror they've lived to recount
Soldiers raped and maimed them; leaving parting gifts of Aids.
Still these women endure, overcoming horrific injuries;
determined their spirits will emerge from the veil of pain.
Despite trauma, despair, scars etching their bodies and their minds
With faith and joy they raise their loud voices to the heavens and sing
While a lone doctor struggles to tend their physical wounds,
they begin to heal their souls, finding comfort in shared survival.
No safe havens; all victims, they
yet refusing to remain so.
African warriors: They won't lie down, give up and die
Having survived what would kill lesser women.
They remain strong, no matter their bleak surroundings
No home to return to; no prospects for work;
No protection other than in this isolated place.
It could happen again, out there: snakes in the grass.
In Arabic, they shout "hiawan" when men behave like animals.
And "Haraam!" It is forbidden.
Such unspeakable behaviour unforgivable in every culture;
Will those criminals ever be made to pay for their inhumanity?
The women's stories won't let us forget;
their plight won't allow us to turn away from our television screens.
Their grief won't let us put down our newspapers and magazines
and gaze in the mirror and do nothing.
In French, the word is esperance.
In Spanish, esperanza is the term.
In English we say hope.
The universal meaning crosses all borders.