this little light of mine

Deborah Jack

This poem by Deborah Jack further complicates the already complicated feelings surrounding Americans and their varied experiences and beliefs involving the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In an era where global issues are just as important as domestic ones, this poem asks the reader to think outside herself, outside the shared American experience of mourning some 3,000 and consider the larger global picture where mothers lose their babies every day. This poem rebels against the traditional movement of a “9/11 poem” and asks readers to consider the many injustices going on around them everyday, while also recognizing that we as a nation are still mourning; we are still hurting.

this little light of mine
by Deborah Jack

our father who art in heaven
how do we spell your name

the light shone
and the darkness
did not understand

some people shout at God every other
day
some people shout at God 5 times a day
some people shout at God everyday
on their knees

the light shone
and the darkness
did not understand

some people pray to God every other
day
some people pray to God 5 times a day
some people pray to God every day
with one eye shut

the light shone
and the darkness
did not understand

some people talk to God everyday
some people talk to God 5 times a day
some people talk to God once a day
and
lie

the light shone
and the darkness
did not understand

the names keep coming
has anyone seen Jeff
he worked on the 101st floor
Olivia on the 90th
brown hair, green eyes, 5 foot 6
some
one
any
one

the light shone
and the darkness
did not understand

lost families no longer
wander ash tinted streets
washed clean by rain
washed clean by hoses
washed clean by tears

still
ash clings to the soles
of a childless mother,
a new widow,
a confused orphan
death is new to them
an unfamiliar visitor

ask women in Palestine how to grieve
for a lost son
ask women in Rwanda how to suffer
for the loss of innocence
ask women in Chile how to dance
with the unseen
ask women in Mississippi how to forgive
men with masks
ask the mama Diallo how to grieve
for uniformed injustice

welcome
welcome to the world
welcome to the rest of the world

who said
that giving birth to yourself
would be easy

our mother who art in heaven
how do you spell your name?

 Rebellious Women in Poetry (brought to you by rebellious women) is made possible by rebellious women. Reprinted from Deborah Jack’s book Skin, published by House of Nehesi, with permission of the author. Jack is currently faculty in the Art Department at New Jersey City University. She is an artist whose work is based in photography, painting, video/sound installation, and text. Her work deals with trans-cultural existence, memory, re-memory and hurricanes. Introduction is by Jessica Dyer, a writer and editor who lives in Chicago.

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