Are you dead yet?
Are your hands by your side, is your neck angled down?
Are you lowered into that six-inch box?
Have you submitted to the loss of consciousness?
Is your soul drowning, is your spirit floating yet?
In this jungle, there’s no life support,
Just your mother standing over your body waiting to feel the cord snap
Because motherhood knows when you’re gone.
Are you dead yet?
Your mother wants to know
Are you holding on, she wonders, her hands clutching her belly?
filled with words unsaid, emotions she wishes were shared.
Are you dead yet?
Or are you drifting in and out?
Are you dead yet?
Or are you satisfied with the shallow breaths that barely fill your lungs, in and out?
Are you dead yet?
Do you lay still in anticipation that your inflictors will stop?
Waiting for your father’s voice calling out, STOP?
Do you lay there in trepidation?
Your blood flooding the streets like a virgin’s soaked sheets
Are you dead yet?
Are you laying on the steps, unconscious?
Your perpetrator standing over you with no remorse?
Will you hang your head in resignation?
Are you dead yet?
Or can you take some more?
Can you look on and watch Halima die of starvation?
Her mother’s consistent struggle to feed Toheeb from her dry breasts?
Are you filled with wild emotions or are you dead yet?
I know your pulse is faint and that your heart aches
But you must answer me
Are you dead yet or will you stand up?
And in trepidation and uncertainty still fight?

Poem by Lara Oriye


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