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Friday, May 04, 2007


by Mary Saracino

“As many as 50,000 women were raped during the war in Bosnia . During conflicts in West Africa thousands of young girls were kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery and prostitution. Rape is rampant in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where as in so many other places it is again being used as a weapon of war, a tactic used to terrorize, destroy and humiliate communities, its impact devastating." --The International Rescue Committee

Strong, calloused hands flew everywhere,
grabbing baskets of grain, bowls brimming
with ripe fruit, a jug of water on the table,
the table itself; the red and yellow cloth her mother
had woven for her wedding day, torn and dirtied
by the soiled, greedy fingers of the men.
Worldly goods were not enough
to fill the empty sockets of their souls;
they blindfolded her eyes, gripped her arms,
hauled her, her sisters, her daughters, her nieces
away from everything good they knew,
twisted their hearts with horrors their tongues wept to describe,
eviscerated their innocence, desecrated their lives;
when the women dared to resist
the men shot bullets at their defiant heads;
six torturers taught, by god knows who,
to wage rape, inflict war where none is called for,
for reasons no sane heart will never understand or accept;
pain so brutal her skin cried out for mercy,
and afterwards, they tossed her out
like rubbish, her body, the bodies of her female kin, too,
strewn, like litter, along the roadside
left to rot, until some kind hand—a compassionate man
perhaps or a grieving woman—took the wounded
women to the hospital; twelve hours later
she awoke in the bright womb of convalescence,
remembering everything; her bruised mouth opened wide
and howled for all the world to hear.

Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet, and memoir writer who lives in Denver , CO . Her latest novel, The Singing of Swans (Pearlsong Press 2006), was named a Lambda Literary Award finalist, in the Spirituality category. Visit or for more information.