The Unknown Child
Poems of war, love and longing.
Children who are stripped of their innocence and forced to participate in civil and regional war are the true victims of human conflict. These child-soldiers, whose spirits are hobbled by combat, are cheated of their youth, not only by the governments and rebels who control them, but by we whose countries manufacture and export armaments, fuelling trade in weapons. This anthology pays tribute to the child victims of modern warfare and their mothers.
Why is it that we learn nothing from war and genocide?
Are we to be remembered
not so much as composers of music, as artists, as builders,
but as a species of warriors
with a collective psyche of hatred and revenge,
a species which destroyed one another, and one another's cultures,
and even the earth, with impunity?
Would it not be sweeter
to be remembered as a genus of light-bearers,
one which loved and rendered unto others
only things born of goodness?
The Unknown Child
Did no one cover your nakedness,
small boy, small fallen angel,
bent beneath the heavy wings of war?
How did she die, your mother?
Was she the one who fell by the roadside,
when the many were fleeing the attack on Huambo?
Was she the one who stood on a landmine in the field,
blown apart and unto the winds,
away from you?
Was she the one the soldiers took away in the night
or did you just loose her in the crush,
when the armies opened fire across Kuito?
Did no one lift you, hold you up,
in the rain, in the traffic, in Luanda?
Did no one notice this holy moment
of hunger, of cold,
of the human heart longing for love?
Did no one hear that the mission bells were silent,
and that all you wanted
was the smallest of things?
Where are you now,
Did you find some place to go?
Published by African Sun Press
Black-and-white archival photographs
Swedish Paperback: Okänt Barn
Translated by Yvonne Blank
Published by Bokforlager Tranan
Norwegian paperback: Det Ukjende Barnet
Published by Margbok Forlag
“There is no mistaking the compassion and sorrow that animate these poems of war, death and love.”
“A haunting, disturbing and moving anthology that highlights the plight of child victims of conflict, genocide and greed. May these poems move us to build a better world.”
“The language … is that associated with passion, but the subject is that of deep mourning and outrage. Outrage against the horror of genocide, fratricide and the destruction of nature.”