Helen Wing gives voice to the horrors perpetrated on young women and men in the 2011 Libyan uprising.
The girls are quiet. There have been twenty of us before.
The captain beats us until we do it, gives us five dinar as a reward.
It is my first time with a woman.
I like girls, especially sweet, dainty, quiet ones.
I have four sisters like that at home.
Souad makes fatoush on Thursdays,
I buy Baklava and Mini Rose and carry them home
on a cardboard tray wrapped in wax paper and tied up with string.
Maryam makes the coffee for my father and myself.
I like to steep my cup in full four spoons of sugar,
stir the grains ten times clockwise and ten times back,
and then sip and bite into the Mini Rose with my sweet and silent
Of all my sisters Leila is the quiet one.
I have never seen her climb the stair up onto the roof.
She of all my quiet sisters never looks over the wall.
Here in Misrata the girls are quiet too. There have been 20 of us
Author’s Note: I wrote this poem during the 2011 Libyan uprising after seeing an interview with a soldier captured by the rebels in Misrata. He looked about 17 and was recounting having taken part in gang rapes of girls whose families were suspected of being disloyal to Gaddafi. That poor boy’s life is probably over, certainly his peace of mind is forever shattered…I can’t even go where the girls’ lives must be.
Editor’s Note: Helen Wing has published with The Good Men Project before. Read “Duet.”
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