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An experience of a mother in the militant town of Baga, in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno, where the activities of Boko Haram militants forced the Nigerian Army to engage in a "clean - sweep" of the town, leaving hundreds dead and thousands homeless.


Allizwellby Henry Iyke22 Jul 2013

From the reek of her wounds,
still burning the white sheets, swaddled
in tormented air, this woman's grief
sears like the specter of her daughter
when the rocket hit, severing
her kitchen and cremating her infant
in her arms. Her daughter vaporized
as she watched. Smoke
swathes her arms, her chest
that continue to singe
just as the afterburn of her memory still
sears deep screams, hers,
her daughter's hazy with
the reptilian hiss of Shekau’s rockets
sizzling to Baga, tracing lovely arcs
to her kitchen.
What god
or monster could imagine this?

Could it be TNT? But this
burns under water, boils
in tissues so deep they no longer resemble
anything so much as cooked goat.
Definitely Torpex!
What starry eyed squaddie
can call this keeping the Peace?

A nurse wraps this woman's arms in yellow
balsam, wipes her forehead
with cucumber's cool wool. Her daughter
rises from ash, carries the toddler
into her mother's room.
Take it all back,
she sings. Take it back. Back.
Take it back before dawn,
this deadly Festival of Lights.