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Thursday, July 14, 2011


by Lee Ann Pingel

[Jolie’s film] caused controversy in Bosnia with some female victims of sexual violence objecting to details in the plot and Bosnian authorities canceling a filming permit. —Reuters, 17 May 2011

Angelina, you cannot take our stories.
Angelina, you do not speak for us.
The world years since has closed this book,
but still the pages flutter open
as our eyes drift shut each night.

Angelina, they raped us until we could not sit, or stand, or walk.
Until we barely knew our names.
They raped our daughters, mothers, grandmothers…
until we had no begging left in us.
They raped us into exile. Raped us to death.
Not one of us fell in love with our defiler.
Angelina, your movie does not speak for us.

Angelina, you cannot take our stories.
Our torturers planted enemies in our wombs,
whispered that their babies one day would kill us.
But we filled orphanages with any babe born breathing.
Perhaps, Angelina, you can take one of them.

Lee Ann Pingel has lived in the Athens, Georgia, area since 1994 and serves as the distance-learning editor for the University of Georgia. She earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from UC San Diego and holds graduate degrees in political science and religion from UGA. After many years of dithering and distraction, she has recently returned in earnest to writing poetry. Her poems have appeared in Motif 2: Come What May, an anthology of writings about chance from Motes Books, in Contemporary Haibun Online, and in Staccato, a journal of flash fiction.