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Calling You

Then, they told me about your eyes.
How the sun shone in them
In daytime and nighttime…
How they welled up as soon as you smiled.

Then, they told me about your skin.
How soft it was
And how lovingly it surrendered
To the caress of the machete.
How your flesh, tender and willing,
Split open under the sharp spear of death.

Then, they told me about your heart.
How it was going at a hundred an hour
How from the four corners of the world
One could hear it bang
With faith, with fire
With passion, with power

Then, they decided it was making a racket
It was polluting the earth
So they removed its beating permit

Apparently it did not flee.
Nor did it take refuge
At the top of the head
Or the bottom of the heels.
It did not slip through the bones either
To hide behind a muscle…
No, it reliably stayed
In its place

Stunned and dismayed
The entire world heard
The rhythm of your drumming heart
Take off, accelerate,
Then slow down and suffocate

But until the end
It kept beating
Until the end
It kept fighting
Until the very end
Standing until the last thump.
Thu-thump. Thu-
Thump. Thu-thump.

Then they told me
That it died
That exhausted,
It collapsed

Then theytold me about your faith
Then they told me about your fear
Then they told me about your love
Then they told me about your anger
Then they told mebout your outbursts
Then they told me bout your passions

In the end
They told me your name
Yes, they told me your name
Which I wear every day
To protect myself from cold and despair

Since then, all my dreams look like you
They have your big eyes
And every night, it is against your name that I fall asleep

Yes, they told me your name.
Every time they tell me your name,
I break into a thousand ungrateful pieces

Today, whispering these words
Is a little like scratching your skin
Like trying to raise your eyelids
In the hope of stealing the look in your eyes.
I lie next to your body
And try to feel your warmth,
And try to make love to you.

I try to wrap your arm around my shoulders
And I caress your mouth with the tip of my poor fingers…


"Kiki" is a Rwandan playwright, director, poet, musician, actor and humanitarian. Among her many accomplishments are the first women’s drumming company Ingoma Nshya (Women’s Initiative) in Rwanda...

Odile Gakire Katese

Odile Gakire Katese


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