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DELAWARE POETRY REVIEW
Shelley Grabel
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DARFUR TREMBLES

September 12, 2006
From A New York Times article September 10, 2006
“Darfur Trembles as Peacekeepers Exit Looms “
 
Darfur Trembles in the shadow of the relentless sun
This place echoes Rawanda
This camp a tangle of weeds,
Squalid shacks and  straw huts
This place echoes Rawanda
Not for the soldiers
who hold together the tattered peace
Not for the soldiers with
dusty guns and dead eyes
 
This place calls out Rawanda
This place, Dali, Its true name
a camp near Tawila
where our own soliders
Fire upon us in the marketplace
 
They call this place Rawanda
The Sheiks say
the name holds a darker truth
A nod to a another massacre
To a promise unfulfilled
What happened there will happen here
Rawanda – Darfur - my village
Tawila, a name that was once a town,

I am this place
Its’ red sand woven like beads in my hair
I am this rambling camp of despair
Camp of children
Cut in half by mines
Cut in half again by hunger
Cut in half again by fear
Cut in half again until they disappear
Everyone wants this piece of dirt
Not for what it holds
But for where it leads
And where it doesn’t
 
Darfur quivers in the cold faced moon
Darfur where you are either Arab or Non-Arab
To be defined by what you are not
Who will remember what you have been
Defined by the small space you once occupied
By the empty shell you leave by the roadside
When you cannot carry one more bucket of dirty water
When you cannot face your hungry son
One more day with empty hands
 
I am Mariam Ibrhim Omar
I buried my son Ismail on Wednesday
No one is sure what killed him,
Will someone call this genocide?
When one group of people disappears
A day at a time
A meal at a time
A cup of dust at a time
Who will call this genocide?
We are not even visible
So how can we disappear?
The only thing growing here is the graveyard
With bodies buried
In bleached in white sheets
heads facing Mecca
Those who bury them
bend their knees to the ground
Red sand furls out of their hands like ribbons of water
dust and clay clog the mouths of the living as well as the dead
White sheets white turbans white sky
black holes shallow graves
red dust red blood or no blood
Huts made of bundled sticks
stand stubbornly against relentless sun.
How to tell the dead trees
from the makeshift homes
 
There is nothing here to have
Nothing here to want
Nothing here but piles of bones and rags
cracked cups that could not hold water even if the well were not dry
 
Wrapped in someone else’s blanket – the colors of another tribe
I hide beneath the pieces of straw
I hide beneath the cook pots
I hide because I can
I hide until the enemy can see my dead eyes
I hide until the enemy can see my bones
I hide until the enemy can see nothing the nothing I have become
I have become nothing to hide from them
I am sure I cannot become something ever again
I cannot inflate my thin skin to walk even as a ghost in my own town
 
I am Miriam Ibrahim Omar and today
I pull the white sheet over my own head
And lay down in the red dust river
Careful to face my head toward Mecca.

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For My Lover In Answer To A Question
                “I love the scars we reform daily”
 
You are not my first
You will be my last
This is not a curse
Your eyes search for answers
I will not easily give
This is the secret I hold fast
I am a pebble stuck in your shoe
You ask me none
of the hundred questions
Stuck in your throat and yet
Your eyes spill always with question marks
I hide in the curl of your commas
We are 10 years older
And 10 years later
grown into each other’s hair
My toes curl toward you at night
You now know that my sleeping back
does not reject you and yet
that one open question hangs
above the bed like a ceiling fan
The low noise of it
Is the soundtrack of our days
 
Roses, perfume, red flock gift boxes
Not your style – either to give or receive
We have instead
One year piled on the next
A rock wall we build daily
like Frost’s Fence
But in this story
We are on the same side
The stony unevenness our strength
A wall built of our fits and stops
A wall built of our unfit starts
Our hands meet on rugged surfaces
Our fingers bleed on jagged points
Blood believes in you and you in me
We grow together like mending skin
In this bed with small dogs curled between us
The cat braids my hair into yours
Fur bridges my thigh to yours
 
The morning does not unmake this cloth
The sun does not unshake me from you
The tether of your voice
Holds me to you
a balloon in a violent wind
a kite reeled in each night by my own hand
We reweave, reattach until
we cannot distinguish fur from hair from robe from slipper
The question I will answer now is this
Will I choose you?
I do choose you, go on choosing you
breath by minute by mile

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About the Poet
Shelly Grabel has been writing poetry for over 35 years. In 1975 Persephone Press published "The Fourteenth Witch" a book of Shelley's poems with photographs by Deborah Snow. Her poetry has appeared in a number of publications including "Off Our Backs" and "The Journal of Radical Therapy." She performed her poetry in the Village at local cafes, Folk City and on WBAI Radio. Shelley graduated from Brooklyn College with a degree in TV/Radio in 1987. After a successful career in computer systems at various corporations in the Northeast, Shelley relocated to Milton, Delaware. Shelley now writes articles for local publications as well as continuing to develop her poetic style. She has participated in workshops with Fleda Brown as well and is an active member of the Rehoboth Writers Guild. She currently teaches Business Leadership courses at Delaware Technical & Community College.
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