a poem by Sanaa Mirz | Trigger warning: death mention, violence
"Ode to elders I’ll never know is a response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic of the 80s and the deaths of countless LGBTQ+ people who would have been my elders. It is a cry for those I’ll never know and for my LGBTQ+ community who continue to be persecuted by those who say it is in the ‘name of God’. This poem is for the elders I wish I had to turn to when questioning my sexuality in order to see that it was possible to live and thrive as a young black queer Muslim woman."
Ode to elders I’ll never know
They let you die
While they danced under neon lights,
As if to distract themselves
From the deaths of elders I’ll never know.
So I walk ahead,
Slave to the past,
Trying to retrace steps that were never mine,
If only to know things they never told us in school,
For fear we too would be sinners,
Damned to burn for all eternity,
Truth tellers that we are,
Daring to live a life devoid of lies.
But don't they sin too?
Don’t they cheat,
Don’t they lie and ask their God why,
Why he put us on this earth,
Incomplete that we are,
Making plans for futures unguaranteed?
They stone and murder us,
Writing their bible verses in our blood,
When their God up above,
They preach of righteousness,
Yet beat us like beasts,
All in the name of God.
Even though sin they do,
Behind their closed doors and church fans,
After they bow down to God,
Hypocrites that they are,
Telling us we’ll burn
As if God speaks through their sullied lips,
Hardened hearts and lying tones.
So I cried and prayed
To their God who loved me less day by day,
Until his silence drove me mad,
Making me wander through the planes of stillness,
Watching as they struck down their own children,
Just to paint their shrines in ichor,
Heathens that they are.
But they watched as you died,
Elders I’ll never know.