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Tuesday, January 23, 2007


by Bonnie Naradzay

When you want to talk, just move your fingers.
They tied me to a plank,
fixed a tube to the tap at the sink,
jammed a block in my mouth
to force it open,
wrapped my head in a rag.

The rag was soaked rapidly,
water flowing into my mouth and nose.
I had the impression of drowning
and the terrible agony of death itself
took possession of me.

In spite of myself, my fingers shook uncontrollably.
In the gloom, I saw the captain with a cigarette
between his lips hitting my stomach with his fist
to make me throw up the water I had swallowed.
I hardly felt the blows.

“Well, then?” But I remained silent.
They put my head under again.
This time I clenched my fists,
forcing the nails into my palms.
I did not move my hands.

Three times I feared that terrible
moment when I felt myself losing
control - while fighting
with all my might not to die.
The last time, I lost consciousness.
When you want to talk, just move your fingers.

From Henri Alleg’s memoir of the Algerian war. Alleg was a French journalist who supported Algerian independence. This instance of his “ waterboarding” at the hands of French authorities, used also by the Khmer Rouge, Gestapo, Soviet Gulags and most recently by the American CIA, which terms this form of torture “Enhanced Interrogation Technique,” was included in a complaint filed against Rumsfeld.

Bonnie Naradzay is a degree candidate at the Stonecoast low residency MFA program. She has a poem scheduled to be published in JAMA next month and has poetry in numerous online publications.