We Are Here: Women are being killed

2010-11-29 08:58

Day 5 (29 November 2010)

This poem forms part of the We Are Here series, a collection of

16 poems by Antonio Lyons that look at gender violence from a male


She called to apologise…to say, “Sorry for being triflin’…should have called you sooner, but you know how it is.”

I respond, “I’ve been known to be triflin’ too on occasion.”

We launch into conversation that runs from party planning to things in the news, to what have you been up to lately, to whether or not we are going to create a new poem or read an old one or delve into another writer’s work, to themes of blood and violence and death, and the killing of women. Women, those we have heard about in the news and others’ stories.

I can hear this sister’s pain and passion about doing something to stop the carnage.

“They were killed,” she says, “because they were women…because they were lesbians, because they were HIV positive, because they were old and labelled witches.”

And my heart aches and memories awake remembering my aunt Stephanie. She was taken too soon by a violent boyfriend in the middle of the night. In her home. While her two little girls were in the next room.

And I grieve again for her loss, for her children, for my mother who is her sister, for her father, for her brother, for my eldest brother who knew her best, for all the families that have lost and will lose women they love.

And she shares her stories of women taken from her clan and the destruction spinning in the lives of their children.

Children wounded so young with gaping holes now filled by street corners, violence, drugs, apathy. Lives wasted.

Mother’s dream legacies never to be realised.

My friend, she asks, “But what about the brothers? Where are the men?”

I take a deep breath and say, “We are here.”

Because what she means is where are those that would never steal my kinswomen? Where are those not like the males we’ve known, who beat, abandon and live their entire lives as children.

And what I mean is that we who are the polar opposite of them are here. When you ask us for us, without seeing us in your midst, pains us, but we still do what we do in light and strength.

I tell her that I am not the only one. I am the last born of four men, fallible in their own ways as we all are, but good and strong. They are good fathers and partners, and stand for something bigger than themselves.

I look at them anew, and at the brother, friends in my circle of knowing. All stand out as being vistas upon which I see a place of guidance and self-hood.

I tell her again we are here…asking to be acknowledged. All is not lost. There are role models for young boys, and peers, and elders.

I wonder if she who is looking for us can’t see us...then that much more invisible we must be to those with holes in their chests and misplaced longing from childhood scars. Scars never treated with love and care. Never given fresh air and medicinal touch to heal…to heal…to heal.

We keep talking, going from location to speculation, to Zuma and young democracies to Mbeki and mistakes made, to Barack and tired hopeful Americans to cabinet decisions and black conscious expectations, to have you talked to so and so, to we gotta do something Antonio.

“We gotta do something Antonio…”

“I think we are and I shall.”

“We gotta do something Antonio.”

“Yes, everyday of our lives.”

“We gotta do something Antonio…”

“They are being killed…”

“Women are being killed because they are women.”

I exhale, “Yeah, we will…we are.”

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