When a young man was raped. A poem.


dedicated to Theo, Jyoti Singh, Lucia Perez, and all the victims of sexual violence.

i am sharing this poem once more, because on this grey wintry morning, my heart is still filled with ache.
i ache with and for Theo, whose life will never be the same again. 2 weeks ago, this young Parisian man was at the wrong place and at the wrong time, and from one moment to the next Life-as-he-knew-it collapsed: he was racially abused, attacked, beaten up, and brutalised by police officers and one of them rammed his truncheon into Theo’s anus so violently, that he required emergency care and had to be operated on.
there is burning anger on the streets of Paris.
and i although i am sitting warm and quiet in my tiny flat in southern Sweden, i am also there, and all of it. i am the person who cried with tears of pain and anguish hearing Theo’s harrowing words. i am the person who quickly changes the channel because thinking about it is too much. i am the person screaming on the streets. i am the person burning cars.

i am Theo, and his desecrated body.
and i am all the young people, named and unnamed, who are continuously being violated, abused, destroyed and desecrated by life, by people in power and authority, by their neighbours, by strangers, by family.
the youth of our world are the hope of our world.
we have a duty to nurture, respect, honour and protect our youth.
and i believe we also have a duty to practice compassion, in thought, intention, speech and action.
because whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not, whether we are Theo or the police officer who beat him up and raped him…compassion is our essence and our purpose. this is who we are. this is our aliveness.
Theo, what happened to you is unjust beyond words. and i hope you will know how to make sense of it, for yourself, and eventually turn your suffering to healing.

Here is the poem that birthed inside of me when i encountered your pain:

winterblue fills my face with icicle breath
and the muted song of receding snow.
winterblue fills my window-sky,
now chiselled with hotcoffee exhale.
in the early-morning drowse,
tinybird clawings made leaf shadows on the uncertain snow :
sleep avoided me last night.

my tired eyes drink in wintertime too radiant for words-
but inside i am another kind of speechless,
and my heart is away, far away,
lotused within another heart
lying unbearably still, and also sleepless,
on a shiny hospital bed.

Theo, You are Pain:
you stepped into your everyday careful yet casual,
and life rammed into the deep of you, desecrating;
their uniformed four against your one.
your truth walked unbidden into my everyday-
a receding tide deepbreathing in,
before crashing down,
your pain washed me in its wake,
and i am gasping for the icicle sigh of a winterblue morning.

i am them,
who cried
unworded in disbelief.
who quickly forgot before it even happened,
their souls silenced
by angry metal pushing and tearing them wide open
beneath a February sky;
i am them,
who set the night alight
with disavowed years of unheard pain,
gassed for grieving on the unforgiving streets
that truncheoned your innocence away
as the world looked on.

Theo, your heartbeat is pain,
as i am you,
slit open to my depth,
your name is Jyoti Singh and Lucia Perez,
as i am you,
gaping wide, bleeding loud
on the unforgiving streets of Delhi and Buenos Aires,
as i am you
the nameless, faceless war-torn
brokenhearted wombs
of Kivu and everywhere else
in this exhausted world,

every time.

(thank you Unplash & Tertia van Rensburg, for the photograph).


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