Would That I Had Been a Martha Gellhorn

A poem on activism and the real world. Contains content which may be upsetting.

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Would that I had been a Martha Gellhorn, or Isadora;
a Rainbow Warrior or foot soldier for Compassion
for World Farming. Would that I had taken the story
of lost peoples to the UN and secured a treaty for
permanent peace and liberty. Would that I had unschooled
my daughters from hours of pre-ordained shite
and rode our bikes across San Salvador and seen
the sun rise on Galapagos.
I should have gone to Greenham, built rafts
for peace, marched on Whitehall, instead
of playing homage to imagined roots and learning
Ghanain dance believing I was some griot
whose words were gentle weapons of persuasion.
Yeah right. Everybody’s shouting now and still
girl children are having their genitalia sliced
with razors and rusty knives
in villages I may have cycled through
my children’s heads blazing against a horizon of blue.

Maggie Harris is a poet and an author. Regional Winner, Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2014. Winner, Guyana Prize for Literature 2014.

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