Artistic webzine on migration, borders, human rights
“She remembers the stars as they faded one by one with each thrust, / when strange men tore into her that night, their moans mocking whimpers / escaping through large fingers pressing on her mouth.” A poem by Silva Merjanian, illustrated by Vatche.
Outside, desert air licks tents with an icy tongue,
creeping under pegs unto the sand floor inside,
where she waits morning, legs squeezed, trembling tight.
Her mother’s warm breath with a hint of onion and lentil smell
brushes on her face, calms tremor of awake nightmares,
her sister’s knees dig into small of her back.
She tucks her cold feet under her aunt’s ample buttocks,
finds comfort and safety in the call of unwashed bodies,
familiar, earthy, sweat of family in deep disturbed sleep
on worn beige mattresses pressed side by side.
A limb resting on her distended bladder feels heavy,
she knows she has to hold it in, till light leaks
from between clouds bearing down, birthing morning relief
over a tense night battling more than a winter’s wrath.
It is not safe to walk at night to the makeshift bathroom outside
her father had said, not even holding mother’s hand.
She remembers the stars as they faded one by one with each thrust,
when strange men tore into her that night, their moans mocking whimpers
escaping through large fingers pressing on her mouth.
She feels the sting first, between her bruised thighs,
before the wet warmth soaks through her pink pajamas,
darkening with yellow and red princess patterns
into the coarse mattress, where her siblings lie
entangled in fading dreams of home.
She couldn’t hold, she is after all only eight years old.
Silva Zanoyan Merjanian is the author of poetry collection Uncoil a Night, the proceeds of which are donated to the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund (SARF), a charity providing aid to innocent families caught in middle of a war. The poem Refugee was originally published in Counterpunch.
Vatche is a poet and painter who calls home Addis Ababa, Yerevan, Los Angeles, Toronto and Mexico. He captures the underlying order in chaos on his canvas, the poetic nature of life of great importance to his perception of things. Click here to see his paintings under the pseudonym Arsasian.