“Even After Your Death
The night bites me.
I write because you told me to.
I am going to fill this notebook with piss-poor poems like I miss my daughter,
somebody said love, and I believed them,
telephone rings scare me.
And memories of you looking at me
like I could eat a tiger in the morning
and still breathe during the day.”
These poems are not about the revolutions and uprisings Mai’a Williams witnessed and participated in. They are in response to living them out. They are a record of how intimate a firefight can be. How hope can be more violent than a bomb. They are late night rituals, one of the few constants in a life that has been filled with tear gas and water cannons, knife fights and heartbreaks, babies still wet from birth and martyrs streaked with dried blood, marches and molotov cocktails and my daughter in the living room drawing pictures of unicorns and marching in circles, wearing fairy wings and yelling ‘horreya!’, ‘freedom!’ to an imaginary crowd.
Mai’a Williams has worked as a writer and human rights worker in Mexico, Egypt, Palestine, and east Africa and Ecuador.
When you wake up you wonder if today is the day that the world explodes. All your anxiety floats to the skin and you hope that instead this is just another day of jitters and paranoia. See, you know the worst can happen. It has happened and continues happening. You know what hell is – earth. And heaven is for the dead. You know that jesus was right. His dictums were how to live now. Not for an afterlife. Even dogs go to heaven. But you. You insist on living. You hope. Even though you long learned that hope is futile. And yet you don’t give up. There are lives to be lived. There are people worth loving. There are surprises worth opening. Your daughter’s fifth birthday. You want to see if your friends find love. If young artists find their voice. If the sun warms this ground. You push past the pain and you give as good as you get.
Sometimes even better.”
Margaret Elysia Garcia said, “I got to see early drafts of both of these as Mai’a was figuring out edits. Mai’a was living in Egypt at the time of the Uprising in 2010. Her chapbook No God But Ghosts records this time in a fresh and devastating way. In Monsters and other Silent Creatures based on her impressions after viewing the Wikileaks video ‘Collateral Murder’. She questions who the monsters in this world are and what becomes of them when they are no longer in the sanctioned role of monster.
What grabs you in Mai’a’s poetry is the immediacy and the raw emotion; what lingers with you is rhythm and the space between the lines and thoughts. She is succinct and her language is rich. Enjoy.”