In Rwanda Was Immaculee

July 20, 2010
By SympatheticVibrations BRONZE, Rocklin, California
SympatheticVibrations BRONZE, Rocklin, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
\"Civilization began the first time an angry person cast a word instead of a rock.\" -Sigmund Freud

Is an understatement to the horrors of war;
A romanticized word
For the result of hate,
Ignorance and fear
It is not fit to carry such power; I do not believe it is that strong.

It’s all wrong, this word
Which goes in hand with war
Like “Q” and “U”. As if it lessens the fear
When we hear it used in terms of our enemies and increases the hate
When we hear it used describing us. A casualty
Is no longer a person, a statistic no longer on the battlefield making the country strong.

But what if the war
Is internal? When only one side can be called casualty
And the other murderers; when 800,000 become victims of hate
Crimes, and the remaining ¼ huddle in fear
Around a radio waiting for a safe word
To announce an exhaustion in the enemy’s strength?

Her heart cried to the sound of war
To the metal scraping asphalt, the sound of hate
Closing in around her, and the sound of fear
Threatening her mind with the possibility of becoming the word:
Her only protection from insanity was a strong

Hope that she may live, that she may not be a casualty.
But when hate
Entered the home she hid in, in a 3x4 ft. bathroom crowded by six other women and fear,
She heard many ask the man, who was her protector from war,
Spitefully, where the cockroaches were. And then one man made her name the most
horrid word
When he said, “Immaculee, I have killed 399. I want you to be the 400th.” So strong

Were these words, just the very thought that this man knew where she was inspired such
In her that 16 years later, she is still chilled when she remembers his hate.
So strong is her hope to never see a war
Waged on one group ever again, that casualty
Will not be what any other person thinks about when they are asked to describe their
relatives in a word,
And that her country can once again be united and strong.

What is the true casualty of war?
It is humanity; a word forgotten with hate
And when fear becomes too strong.

The author's comments:
This poem is a sestina about the Rwandan genocide of 1994. It is a true story about a woman named Immaculee Ilibagiza, who appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes to share her experiences of the time.

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