For Deborah Samuel

Image: Vanguard NGR News

You should have picked the salt
from my body grain
by grain before you stoned me
or at least chosen
stones of the same size
and weight. Why didn’t you
with forefinger and thumb
suck out the pyre as I turned
to ash. I spoke to
the God of logical thinking
for your threat of evil
befalling students.
Yes, I’d rather talk about
assignments, you
with scissored tongues.
My legacy to the world,
instead of a daughter,
sacrificed to Islam.
Now, I’m stamped in between
my brows, the Euphrates
where we all rose.
Now, I’m the cold celestial
on Sundays where revelation
saves me.
And now, before dawn,
I sit, not quite awake
a violet stork
over my shoulder.

About the Poem

I am horrified about the death of Deborah Samuel in many ways: for a young second-year college student to be targeted in this manner, for this to happen on a college campus, and for religious fervency to take hold of social media with no room for differences. And as a woman, I am devastated by her death, as it sends a message that others have power over our speech and actions. My piece is an attempt to communicate, in a more straightforward way than I normally due in my poetry, my anger.

About the Author

Laurel Benjamin is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she invented a secret language with her brother. She has work forthcoming or published in Lily Poetry Review, Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down: An Anthology of Women’s Poetry, South Florida Poetry Journal, Trouvaille Review, One Art, Ekphrastic Review, Wordpeace, The Thieving Magpie, Black Fox, Hare’s Paw, California Quarterly, Mac Queens Quinterly, among others. She is an Ekphrastic Review challenge finalist, Oregon Poetry Association honorable mention, and a Sunspot longlister. She is affiliated with the Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and the Ekphrastic Writers, and holds an MFA from Mills College. She is a reader for Common Ground Review. She has appeared in Topical Poetry in the past.

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