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September 26, 2010

Written by Winter Miller

MOTHER to her newborn:
One day, I know already to expect it, you will lay your curly head in my lap and ask, “Why am I not named for my father?” And I will wrap you in beautiful lies. Yes, I will tell you my husband was everything to me, the night sky specked with the most dazzling stars. I will tell you he was the desert, dusty and immense. I will tell you his love scorched and burned like the sun. I will tell you an army of men on horseback kicked my husband to the ground and shot him seven times. The first was in the leg, so he could not run. The second was in his groin so he could not spread his seed. The third in his heart so he could not love. The fourth in his heart so he could not breathe. The fifth in his heart to hear him cry for mercy. The sixth in his heart to silence him. The seventh was in the middle of his forehead, for good measure.

But listen my son, for these are words I have never spoken and I will never speak them again so long as I live.

 Your father, all six of him, dragged me through dust, my head bobbing over stones. When my dress tore, just as I would, he gripped my hair, pulling me like a fallen goat. Your father, all six of him, threw me face down in the dirt. As I choked sand, your father, all six of him, cut my clothes off with a knife. One by one, all six of him entered me.

I did not make a sound
Your father, all six of him, called me “African slave” as he spattered his seed in me. Your father, all six of him, said “this land belongs to Arabs now, this cattle belongs to us,” and slashed my right thigh with his blade. (So I would remember him), your father, all six of him sai

  Alone at last, in a pool of my own blood, I looked up at the wide sky above and prayed to die. When I awoke the village pyre had dwindled to embers.

   Your relatives are nameless corpses shoved in wells. My home is a pile of black ash and a stray teapot. There is no one and nothing to go back to, there is only going forward. I will not speak to you of the past. I will teach you not to ask.
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