Chadra Garsson

Devorah Major
Claire Ortalda
Shailja Patel
Mary Rudge
Mary Mackey
Adelle Foley
Debra Grace Khattab
Wendy P. Williams
anonymous poet
T. LeYung Ryan


amina's trial
by Devorah Major

1. unrebuked testimony

when she was fourteen
i gave my daughter over to a man

who offered fine cloth and chickens a goat
and a proposal of marriage

it is not because i did not love her
but because she was too beautiful

because she held her head so high
danced so freely as if we were not poor

because she had started to bleed
and her eyes were dangerous

dark and brooding like his
when they traveled over her small hard breasts

when she became woman and mother and mate
she declared her body as her own so of course he left her

she has been faithful as daughter as mother as sister
but as wife her spirit has betrayed her as i always knew it would

2. unneeded testimony

i divorce thee i divorce thee i divorce thee i said years ago
when i moved from her door without reaching back

i did not care then i do not care now
because her eyes had turned bitter her mouth had turned salt

because her dowry was spent, her demands unending
she is no longer my wife i have no part in this

3. unspoken testimony

yes i have tried to be the name
the name my mother gave me

ask anyone they will tell you
an honest woman amina

trustworthy amina sure
dependable believable amina

yes i know the father of this child
remember his gaze

like hot breath
on my feet my hands my neck

because i needed a husband since the first had abandoned me
i did not lift my eyes until he promised

but when he made the oath of future marriage sealed it
in the name of allah i unwrapped my hair

4. damning testimony

yes i am her boyfriend but not the father
she was not married then she is not married now

of the child she has borne i can say nothing
because i am not the father and will not share her fate

i will help you to dig her hole if you want
right there on the path where we first crossed

when i asked her to her raise her eyes to mine
she turned away but i saw an edge of smile
i will dig it there until it is over four feet deep
so only her head will rise above the walk

and those brown river eyes in which i swam
in which i almost drowned will stare straight out

the hole will not be too wide as her shoulders are slim
and by then the breasts that now feed her child will be flat and dry

if need be i will pick up the first stone heavy and sharp
and i will hurl it smooth and sure at that woman

all the while proclaiming the greatness of god
all the while crying that i am not the father

Devorah Major

copyright © 2004 by Devorah Major