The difference between the top screw
and the bottom screw is this: direction
We are squeezed in by the past and the present
Everything is relative, they say
God and religion and offer escape from the screw
in the name of forgiveness, reconciliation & clean heartedness
Be like Jesus, forgive
Be like Jesus, remember to pray and to pay taxes
Be like Jesus, wear robes,
Have your first cousin shout in the streets about the second coming of yourself
Be like Jesus, hang out with prostitutes – love the sinner and all that
Above all be like Jesus and demand an answer in the moment of your cross
Why, God, have you forsaken us?
Insouciance must be blue
How else could we explain a sky that witnesses
And still insists on magical hues of its self?
Insouciance has to be blue
From royalty to madness
From the marked maleness of babies
To those that stayed death
From indigo at midnight
To the peasant hue of the mother of God
Another young woman to whom a hole in the pale sky announced
That she would bear a child
That she would bear
A boy dressed in madness
How else can we explain the resonances, echoes and exceptions?
The mother of God in us mothers of sons who had to be killed
& God in the mothers whose sons had to be killed
From a collection in process. This is part of a series of poems inspired by Wangechi Mutu‘s daily photographs commemorating Kwibuka 20. These are Day 72 and Day 78. As I write I also think about the experience of war in other places, from my own experience and from that hollow place of the anxiety that we held when we knew that there was a killing in Rwanda and there was nothing we could do about it. I was a young mother then. I was in my mid-twenties and my first child had’t turned 1 yet. I will never forget that hollowness. This is my first attempt to respond to the Rwanda Genocide, even obliquely as I do, via Mutu. Her instagram photos are posted here: http://instagram.com/mutustudio
Juliane’s 100 Days: A Poetic Response … is published here: http://julianeokotbitek.com/
Juliane Okot Bitek was born to Ugandan exiles in Kenya and now lives in Vancouver, Canada and so she has no experience in being a natural born citizen of any country. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art (Creative Writing) and a Master’s Degree in English from the University of British Columbia. She is a doctoral student and a Liu Scholar at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia. Juliane lives with her family in Vancouver.