Moonless Nights over South Sudan

Heartless Moon, don’t tell me
that you weren’t looking
when soulless soldiers dragged me
from my mama’s terrified arms
in our village in Rubkona County

I know you covered your ears
so you wouldn’t hear
my screams piercing the fetid air
as those butchers dropped their pants
repeatedly ripping my body and soul apart

and I saw you cover your eyes
so blinded that you wouldn’t see
the stark horror reflected in my own eyes
the hot tears scorching my cheeks
sobbing for childhood forever lost

oh Mother Moon, Mother Moon
please cover your face
behind billowy black clouds
so that you can’t see
your daughter’s dejected, dead eyes

cowardly Moon, I forgive you
even after you turned your back on me
filling my days only with your dark side
as I sink deeper into a black hole
with no hope to guide me safely home

but helpless Moon, how can I blame you?
for you’re only a mere observer
powerless to defend me
feeling guilty for abandoning
your innocent children

Moon, you’ve witnessed it all before
the torn and bleeding
the tortured and maimed
all tied tightly to weeping trees
reeking of despair and pain

Moon, will you soon forget
my body dripping with bloody shame?
will anyone even remember me?
am I no one…with no name?
will you, Moon, mourn for me?

like you Moon, I am already ancient
over a hundred years it seems
yearning for freedom…
waiting for death…
and I’m only twelve years old

By Pandita Sanchez

Note: This piece is dedicated to all the women and young girls who have been abducted, raped, and/or killed in the secret rape camps in South Sudan over the past two years. According to a human rights investigator, many of them are held indefinitely, tied up with hundreds of other women in these camps and used as sex slaves. Those women who escape from the sex camps are the lucky ones.