Copyright ©2019 José Cossa
Spoken by José Cossa and Wubit Mekuria
Give me a definition of love
Give me a definition of what it means to...
Be in love with someone and
I’ll tell you how love revealed itself to me... how
Love finally showed up after so many years
Many years of loving
Give me a definition of love
Give... me... a definition... of love
See... I was told that love is something you learn
You commit to someone and then...
Then you learn to love that someone you committed to
See... I was told that on that journey to love
It was your responsibility to pour out love
Find it in you ways to show love and that love
That love was the glue for our relationship
That love that you pour out was responsible to glue our relationship together
You.. only you were responsible
You, the girl
You, the young lady
You, the woman
You feel me?! You... THE WOMAN!
You, only you, were responsible to love
I’ll tell you how love finally revealed itself to me, but wait...
The journey was long... long arduous
Filled with dehumanizing efforts in the name of love
Filled with abuse and occasional soothing
Filled with beatings, gifts, insults, pampering
Filled with body humiliation and shaming
Amidst body worship and caressing
I felt loved and cared for
While feeling hated and despised, viciously
I felt wanted and desired
Yet rejected, neglected, and brutalized...
I’ll tell you how love found its way to me
Its way through the rubble of pain and suffering
Through the layers of bruises carved by your hands and words and action
The suffocating choking you inflicted on me
The drowning oceans of tears I could not save myself from
I cried for help, but no one could hear me
You heard me, but my hurting pleasured your narcissistic self
Your demonic spirit felt nourished by my helplessness
You... vehemently and intentionally
Plotted to strip me of my dignity
You... defied my humanity and spit on my uBuntu
In your eyes I became worse than objects you used and tossed
You managed to twist and switch the perception of love into hate
Oh shut up...
There’s nothing you can teach me about love
Your stupid perceptions of love are informed by a perception of weakness
And I... I will not succumb to such weakness
I’m a man... and real men... real men aren’t weak
Real men teach their girls a lesson with harshness
Real men affirm their girls‘ obedience through pain
Real men buy their ladies silence and conformity with money, jewelry, and collars
Real men affirm their ladies’ passivity with ‘good girl’ statements
Real men control their women’s mobility and action through bondage and restraints
Real men affirm their women’s subordination with ‘branding’
This ain’t no game or role play nonsense... this, right here, is real life
So you... you shut up and remember...
Remember that you’re lucky to have me...
You’re not going to amount to anything
Less you learn to listen and obey
Gain some weight to make me happy
Lose the stupid weight and stop embarrassing me!
See... I’m in charge... and you...
you need me to protect you against your own demons
You need me in order to survive this men’s world
You need me to validate you as something
See... Without me you are worthless
You, woman, have no dignity (Period)!
This poem was first presented, in solidarity with all women and the cause of combating violence against women and girls, at the regional offices of the World Food Programme, Cairo, Egypt. We thank Omneya, Heba, Bilal, and Intisar, for making it possible for us to share on this platform.