Poems by Marva Zohar

Times of Peace


That afternoon under the mango

as we were filling out birth certificates

for children with unknown fathers;

bureaucracy bewildered by the chaos of war,


and you mentioned not knowing your birthdate

because the papers burnt when the rebels

set fire to the hut,

your sisters too young to be sex slaves,

your brother too little to become a child soldier,

and your mother,

trapped inside,


I choked,

not on your words, but on the stink of sulfur sweat

reeking from your pores

the smell of fear itself,

and you said

we have to go all the way to the river now

because the rebels pissed in the well

that day, and every day, when they came,

and the vomit came up to my mouth

and I swallowed it

the way that I did

that night

when the rebels back home


who were not rebels at all

but men, simply men who rape

in times of peace.



Cheese Factory


She worked in a cheese factory

and she was a good worker,

and most of the time she would

let them squeeze her

while she milked the cows or beat

the butter.

The only problem was she kept

leaking every month

and they couldn’t make it stop.

And in those times she became

unpleasant conversation

and had no mood for anything

sticky, and she ruined too many

batches of cheese.

The reasonable thing to do

was take out her

uterus, and they did.

But once they did,

the milk went sour

without becoming cheese

and it was like that all month long.




Marva Zohar is a poet, homebirth-midwife and feminist activist. She is passionate about global woman’s health, birth politics, midwifery in the U.S, in Uganda and in Israel. She is currently completing her MFA at Bar-Ilan University with a focus in poetry about gender-based violence.



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