Just a warning, this is not an easy poem and touches on mature themes.
Ode for the Dead
Who are we? Who have we been?
What are we? What have we done?
We are sisters, mothers, friends,
Simply women, living.
Living our lives, day by day.
Poor, not, girls, women.
They came for us.
Men, youth, our mothers, fate.
Torture, murder, stoning.
Disaster, war, rape.
Every day, we die.
Innocent. Silently, screaming.
This is part of an ongoing project of mine. I think it’s evolving. This poem is going to be part of a collage I’m working on about this. The collage is still in the works, my work on this issue takes a long time for me. I’m not sure where it’s going beyond this poem and the collage, but I want to write more about the women and girls who die because they were women, because they were girls, because no one cared because of their gender.
I’m not the first person to be bothered by this, and there are many earnest people, women and men, working very hard on this problem every day. For now, I am focusing on my own response to this issue, and the many complicated emotions it brings up for me.
If this is an issue you want to learn more about, I can help you find resources and information about other people and groups working on it.
A couple comments about the poem itself. It started as alternating iambic tetrameter (four metric feet) and iambic trimeter (three metric feet) although a trochee or two crept in. However, I have made a conscious choice not to use strict meter (the lines are a little shorter than they ought to be) and shorten the lines as the poem progresses (the last line is an exception) to convey the shortening of the women’s lives and the abruptness of their deaths.
And, if you are wondering about the literary terms, I refer you to the books on writing on my books page on this blog.
Updated 2/15/10: I am updating this to add an audio file. I made some changes to the poem when I read it, this is still very much a work in progress. I decided not to change the words written above, they were what I meant the day I posted.