by Sionne Neely
“We’ve said it before: We don’t like prisons, but we are not afraid of them. There are thousands of innocent people who belong under the sun, not in prison cells, but we will continue with our attempts under any and all circumstances.”
~ Mahienour Elmasry
To women rights defenders Yara Sallam, Sanaa Seif, Hanan Mustafa Mohamed, Salwa Mihiriz, Samar Ibrahim, Nahid Bebo, Rania El-Sheikh and the other 15 activists unjustly imprisoned to a three year sentence for peacefully protesting in Egypt.
Transiting through the house of Mirrors
Entails encountering your reflection at every turn
How do ghosts appear to you?
Like bright beams or sharp shards of glass?
Or whispers that stand still in crowded hallways?
Perhaps they smile, dropping crisp jewels like laughter
Gathering up moments in open palms for the rainy days
We stand between sliding doors
Always on the cusp or brink
Freefalling on the edges
Of what is or could be
Navigating between zeros and ones
While buying water at a kiosk
We replenish at risk
Always at risk
While living in a permanent state of exception
Here rules bend and snake
Contracts distract and enact
New forms of restlessness
Producing a playground of persistent struggles
Fractures in abundance
But we drink from this well
And hydrate ourselves
To renew dreams and a desiring imagination
We stir up that collective feeling
Making sure all sip our magic brew
The blood binds us
Like purple hibiscus or blue lavender
Our verve is intensive, vigilant, focused
Perhaps it’s been there all this time
What is solidarity? Feminism? How do we speak out publicly?
Your hopes run like the night through us
A kaleidoscope of bodies dancing in yellow, blue, red and purple
Sentiments with bone and mass
Emboldened through millions of persuasive personalities
We are coming
We are not afraid
We are here
Prepared to meet the light of tomorrow with heavy hands
The joy for life is embedded in our beings
We will not be eradicated.
Sionne R. Neely is a Knowledge Management Specialist at AWDF. Sionne is part of the African Women’s Development Fund’s (AWDF) Community of African Women Writers. Click here to learn more.