Journalism In Verse


The Strange Pattern of Birds

in Africa/World by

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced”
                                                                                                Malala Yousafzai


You never forget your first night.
The trees, dead still, staring back at you.
There is a wet chill, like a frozen
tongue touching your cheek.
I did not want to be there.

And then they come, Allahu Akbar,
like a pack of dogs to rip each of us off
the damp ground we sat on.

Some girls wept or screamed,
but screaming here where the night
is a dark glove covering a mouth
is pointless when the hand
clawing at your neck
belongs to a powerful man.

I did nothing. Could do nothing
but close my eyes & wonder

will they return us
back to the school
they stole us from.

That was some time ago.

Some of us have kept our names,
Na’omi , Tabitha , Abigail, Saraya
but most forget the call of our mother.

Some of us, the lucky ones they call us,
the freed, the rehabilitated, the rescued
move from village to village,
                                    cave to cage
gift to man,
a flock with battered feathers & broken wings
like the strange pattern of birds
that swoop out messages in the sky
which no one understands or just ignores
& when we land upon some strange branches,

a dead kind of silence slowly descends
I wonder why I am called a lucky one.


Read More:
1200 days: 113 girls still remain in Boko Haram captivity [Africa News]
Nigeria’s freed Chibok girls to return home ‘fully recovered’ [Reuters]
Colours from Chibok [Poets Reading the News]

Stephen Byrne is an Irish chef and writer currently living in Chicago. He has been published worldwide in places such as Warscapes, Indian  Review, Tuck Magazine, RædLeafPoetry-India, The Original Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology and many others. His first collection ‘Somewhere but not Here’ won the RL Poetry Award, 2016 International category. He is the food writer for ‘This is Galway’ website.

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