How to understand? In dreams I’m simply
holding a child together in my arms,
swathed and bloody. Wake up. In Swahili
mzimu means ghost. They come from burnt farms,
poisoned wells, fields where the bodies went down.
Who understands the dead?: ghosts, mzimu,
souls. Go work at Kenya’s Dada’ab Town,
largest refugee camp in the world. “You
need to work,” we tell ourselves. Understand
words are a start but not an end. Orphans
and ghosts are still looking for us. War’s cure
is hard work; so find us a new grassland,
enough for all. Enough food for millions.
Enough water to let us dream once more.
We talk about death and war abstractly.
and pray that it happens elsewhere. I pray
for the dead. She came and spoke Swahili,
died with baby fat, mouth parched, her blue-gray
skin cracked like a shell. At the age of ten
she fought with the LRA. She doesn’t
speak of how she died. “At the hands of men,”
I thought. “Grotesquely.” She stood, shy, silent,
waiting to be remembered. When she crawled
in my lap I gathered her up. “Daughter
of love, you are safe here.” A madman’s war
consumed her, grotesquely. I was appalled
by her wounds. But Wesesa, girl soldier,
doesn’t care; she’s not alone anymore.
The LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) is a militant cult movement operating in Uganda, Sudan, the DRC. It has been accused of widespread human rights violations, including murder, abduction, mutilation, sex slavery and recruiting and forcing children to participate as solders in active combat. It is run by Joseph Kony, a self-proclaimed prophet, who claims the LRA is engaged in a holy war with the aim of establishing an Uganda theocracy based on the Ten Commandments and local tribal laws.