Flora Mukampore Witnesses a Genocide This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

July 13, 2010
The birds forgot to sing
The day neighbors became butchers
And mowed my family down
Mr. Rwamuhuzi, who usually greets us with a smile
And gifts of roasted yams
Descended upon my mother with a machete
And lopped off her head
Which rolled into my lap
Like a terrible gourd
I saw the look of sadness in my mother’s eyes
Her lips ripped open
But she could not utter a sound
How could she comfort a daughter
Who had just seen her mother so?

He moved onto my brothers, my father, and my sisters
And now I lie here among the maggots and the corpses
Trying not to breathe

I am one girl alive among 800,000 corpses
A growing vacivity in my chest
There is only silence and the stench of death
On this day in Kigali
When the birds forgot to sing

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