Song of a Child Bride – a duet

by Susan L. Daniels and Noel A. Ihebuzor

I am a girl.
Eleven years ago
I came too early for you,
but I was yours
as nothing else was,
and I grew under love
brighter than the sun.
I am still growing.  I am green
& unripe fruit, unready

I am a girl,
I long to play, feel
and unfurl.  I run after butterflies
I wave after birds in flight
I dwell in innocence
I harvest smiles and stars in all I see

I am a child
my eyes carry hope.
I feel.  I dream past this body
and carry in these bones
a life that hums promise
and walks joy

I am a girl,
body, soul and spirit,
and human
not a piece of flesh
not an object for peace
not an object to be priced

I am a girl,
though lately this body bleeds
and these breasts can make milk
I am too young for this business of women
my hips are too narrow to balance a child,
too slender to push one out;
my mind too new to mother another
and I will break beneath a man’s need
my young body if forced to yield will only hurt,
weep in pain and shame

I am a child,
I long for safe spaces
to draw and discover my dreams,
to live them, and to sing, joyful
as I discover the marvels of the world,
my world expanding

I am a child.
I dream of books I have not read
and the only seed I am fit to hold now
are those of the mind, scattered to work deep;
not the body choked with seeds of a man
I must accept but carry in fear and bitterness.
Death will bloom inside my body, not life
if I am planted now

I am child,
not a wife
marriage at my age will drown me
twist my bones
pierce my body
and break my spirit

Mother, father
I am your child.
Your flesh made and fed me;
to send me to a husband
is to send me to a slaughterhouse
where the floor is stained
with the blood of so many cattle
listen to my words, words
eyes speak but mouth cannot;
words my body shouts in trembling
your eyes can hear if they open.
I beg you to answer past my fear
and shield me with your arms

Father and mother
ignore the clutter of culture
spare your daughter this chain of torture
Ignore the clatter of the appeal of gain,
remember our  bond of blood
before you cause me pain,
before your decisions tear and shatter my developing body
and eventually spill this innocent blood

***You guys had to know this was coming, right?  Noel (regular text) and I (italicized) have created this duet, using the voice of a child.  Though it was, as always, a pleasure to weave lines with Noel, the subject is not one that leads to much joy…no matter how talented your duet partner is.

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About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
This entry was posted in child bride, duet, Duets with Noel Ihebuzor, New Free Verse and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Song of a Child Bride – a duet

  1. I would love to hear two young voices perform this duet! I would love to hear it sung in the local languages in those parts of the world where child marriage is still practised. This song should move the heart of stone! Thanks, Susan for the joy in co-creating this!

  2. Pingback: Song of a Child Bride – a duet « visionvoiceandviews

  3. Shah Wharton says:

    I know this subject is horrendous… and unbelievable in our culture. You both dealt with it beautifully however. I loved –
    to send me to a husband
    is to send me to a slaughterhouse
    where the floor is stained
    with the blood of so many cattle
    listen to my words, words
    eyes speak but mouth cannot;
    words my body shouts in trembling
    your eyes can hear if they open.

    Tragic reality well told. X

  4. Moved. So very powerful. Thank you.

  5. Very striking and moving.

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