amulet for survivors

by Cynthia Dewi Oka



when time is army marshalled

against you starved and alone

i write in celebration your survival

each molecule of courage you collect

sunrise and sundown.

when you cannot move with the music

laughter blade in your belly

i write in celebration your strength

mourning self and body

no longer answering you.

when nobody holds you through

a thousand sleepless nights

i write to share my parts with you

take what you need to continue

let me kiss you where it hurts.

when you hate yourself for being

made of things softer than concrete

i write to witness your rain

washing blood seeping stubborn

outside the neat confines of skin.

when you are asked to relive your war

so the privileged can get a concept

i write to be silent with you

reordering rooms in your heart

leaving the key in a moth’s nest.

when others brush your bones

feathers of good intentions

i write to build a wall with you

scratch poems in the dark

without ever seeing your hand.

when you are labelled self-destructive

instructed to get your shit together

i write to breathe chaos with body

you hurl hurricane speed at anything

solid, sharp and terrible.

when you encounter new intimacies

cannot trust your own judgment of safety

i write to push and run and hide

with you in the anonymity of libraries

the smell of a child’s hair.

when memory burns a hole in your head

road to retribution is unfinished

i write to paint with you banners

in our blood, match the beat

of your footsteps in march.

when language closes herself

to eloquence of your grief

i write to author with you 

hammer for severing her

bondage to cruel pleasantries.

when the thought of being touched

gently  makes you weep

i write to learn with you

how to accept love on your own

terms and in your own time.

when your body conceals herself

beneath rotting leaves and gasoline

i write in stillness watching

with you migration of birds

across uninterrupted ocean.

there are no promises

after rape  we choose

the distance and measure

of our lives

so i write to find

with you in the aching vastness

between our bones

holy things.