Dedicated to the Unknown Woman

This poem is very dear to my heart. My poetry must be truthful and in being so many times it is raw and brutal. We live in a world constantly between the tension of pain and celebration. And while many of us are privileged to not be fearful of our lives on a daily basis, this is not true for a very large amount of the world’s population. In Africa, where I was born, many of those people are women. I did not know this woman’s name. But she is one of many. She represents daughters, mothers and sisters that have soaked the red dirt with their tears and blood. She. She who was raped, abused, discarded, marginalized, sacrificed for someone’s ego, put to death. Take down the women and you take down a nation.

I had the privilege of an actor recording it and I trust you are touched by this reading.

Listen to the drums
Echoing through the valley
See the demons fly
through the night

Hear the old woman
Cry out with fright
As a young woman is stripped bare…
Violated, beaten and bruised
She lies
With unseeing eyes
All she hears
Are the silent screams
Inside her head.

Oh Africa
Land of my birth
What has become of you?
There is no joy
There is no mirth –
So she sighs
And walks down to the riverside
To wash away
The stains
She sees inside her head

Her soul, her heart
Don’t you know
Her spirit feels dead!
The water is cold
Deep and wide
it calls her
it embraces her life
And it swallows her soul
Mother! Father!

She is – dead

The drums echo mournfully through the valley
The demons chuckle with delight
The old woman wails
and cries
and sighs
As another daughter of Africa

© Sharmaine Anna Dobson

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