Saturday, March 03, 2007

to be a martyr

to be a martyr
by kelly zen-yie tsai
you must believe
in something
so unmistakably

that the flesh
falls away from
the skeleton

bones crumble
into air

all you are
left with
is spirit
pure spirit

you let go
of resurrections
rebirths, mad-
dash escapes

you accept

the blinding
of the light

you are
truly committed

and for
the newspapers
that paint you
as a madwoman

and all the
who could not

how heartless
and cruel this
foreign woman
was (and isn’t it
always a foreign

how she didn’t
love the child
she held in
her arms

carried in
her belly 9
months before

how she would
just as soon
blow the child to bits
as guide her nipple
into its mouth

how she filled
the baby bottle
with lotion
fit for explosion

and they and the
plane would have
gone down in
charred flames

the mystery
wafting over
the atlantic

of how this
woman could
have ever loved
this child

to kill in the
name of jihad

but i say
it was not
quite that

it’s never anything
so impersonal

no, i say
it was right there

under her shirt
along the breast

tucked into
her baby’s mouth

as clean as
the milk that
leaked from
her chest

as natural
as the baby’s
skull against her

as close as this
made her do it



this life
this way
was not worth living
for all

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