by Paula Schulz
In the 3 months since 200 schoolgirls
were kidnapped, 11 parents have died.
The town of Chibok is just 1 village
cut off from the world, from all mercy,
by Boko Haram. What Haram’s taken--
how to imagine the wear on parents,
the misery of loving fathers
who could not keep their own girls
safe from violent men. The taken
have taken others with them to death’s
doorway. And beyond. 7 fathers could not escape the merci-
less attack on Kautakari village.
4 more have died of heart failure or illness. A village
themselves, they are the grief-broken parents
of the missing. Life showed no mercy
to the father, coma-like and repeating his girls’
names “until life left him”. Until he died,
to say it plainly. So much has been taken
from these families. The school girls taken,
their fathers taken. Powerless villages
of Nigeria pray for life, expect death.
Waiting is hardest for the parents:
all they can think of is their little girls,
children who are merciful, gentle. No mercy
seems likely for them. What kind of mercy
can be found in mobs who burn cars, have taken
airlines out of service. The 57 girls
who ran home found help in their villages.
Grief and rape counselors for themselves, their families.
Now will food shortages mean death?
Chibuk village, the taken girls, their parents:
it can’t be told in numbers, this story
of impending death, this story without mercy.
Editor’s note: This poem is based on reporting in the AP story 11 “Parents of Nigeria’s Abducted Girls Die" by Michelle Faul, July 22, 2014.
Paula Schulz works daily in a 3K setting, sits for grandchildren and grieves for these children and their families.