Friday, February 01, 2013

Sarah Abigail Stites: My Baby Sister

I wake suddenly.
My lips are cracked and caked 
With the salt of tears I shed in the night
And the saliva which oozed from my dozing mouth. 
My muscles are rigid as I draw my tongue 
Over the roughness of my lips, 
Tasting the iron tang of blood.

Yeraz?  I hear the faintness of my baby sister calling. Yeraz?  
From above, she knows the nightmare I have.
Although it has been years since the genocide, the sharp, stark images are there:
The mirage of the blazing, summer sun,
Clangs and cries, bleatings and brutality.
The sickening, cloying smell of rotting flesh
And blood fermenting in the sun. 
The leering faces of nameless tormenters. 

My legs are lead. I cannot run. Not now. Papa is dead.
And there is Mama, heavy with child. 
Her hand extends toward mine. Yeraz, come!
There is subdued urgency in her voice. Has she accepted our fate?
But from the corner of my eye, a scintillation in the sky! A flash of silver!
In my child-like faith, I believe a prince in shining armor has come to our rescue.

My neck twists up toward the brazen sky, but it is then that the scimitar swings.
Mama’s pregnant belly rips from her body. 
Entrails twist and burn in my gut as my legs give way. 
I hover in space as rage races to support my skeletal form. 
My dove grey eyes, those soft eyes my papa called his dreamy orbs, harden to steel
And flash with the anger of the scimitar.  

I was seven then, but I could not remain a child anymore. 
For as I collapsed, the last thing burned on my retinas was something any girl of seven understands. 
Something that that same girl of seven, twenty years later, has still never forgotten.  
The loss of a human history, the loss of a life that never lived, the loss of a girl I would never know: 
The mangled flesh of my unborn baby sister. 

Sarah Abigail Stites, the winner in the College category, is a student at Grove City College, and is from 
Reston, VA. She is 18 years old and her mother's name is Mooshian. 

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