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,
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
when the rebels back home
who were not rebels at all
but men, simply men who rape
in times of peace.
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 only problem was she kept
leaking every month
and they couldn’t make it stop.
And in those times she became
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.