Felled by illness, my friend,
veins once plump with boldness,
tells me the Virgin appeared
in a cloud of rosedust,
instructed her to lie in bed
suffering for all of humanity,
and so she gathers icons, burrows
into her dim bedroom, tv droning,
dreams of salvation and Armageddon.

I think of other virgins-
Somaly Mam and those thousands
of Cambodian children sold
into the sex trade each year
to be raped and re-sewn,
becoming virgins for sale
all over again.

Locked into dark cages
Maggots stuffed into their mouths
Filled with the semen
of faceless men
day after day,
their childhood rises
like giant blackbirds
to flap blindly across
the brothel ceilings.

My words scream for them
across this useless fragment of paper.

I think of Somaly Mam's torture,
her miraculous escape,
her returns over and again
to free more girls--some so terrified
their mouths won't open to speak,
their minds lost in darkness.

I wonder what the Virgin would say to them.
Do I sound cynical?
I intended to.

I think of grandfather
pumping his stench into my mouth,
how my rage still turns into
an inferno some days, my hope
that there is indeed a hell
for these masters of frightened children,
so certain young weeping voices
would never rise above a murmur
to haunt them.

Pris Campbell

Outlaw Poetry Network  2011


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