29 February 2016

Kenya: ICC Kenya Trials - Witness

Shailja Pater is an internationally-acclaimed Kenyan poet, playwriter, theatre arist and author. She divides her time between Nairobi and Berkeley. In Kenya, she is active in terms of equality and peace. She wrote the following poem in the persona of an ICC witness. It was originally published in Poetry.

was it so I could

never say

across a courtroom

that man, the one

standing there

was it so you could

walk among us again


as if you had shed

the body that did

those things

was it because you could

not bear

my pupils so huge

they would have swallowed you

my whites like flayed kneecaps

when you pressed down

to singe them back

into my skull they were softer

than you expected

you had thought them

diamond hard

weapons turned on you

was it so you could

imagine a time

when you would be human

again among humans

that you had to leave

some of us alive?

Reprinted with permission


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