Improv on Psalm 137, for the girls in Nigeria

By my rivers – the Merrimack
and the Piscataqua, so far
from the Kaduna, the Jebba, the Niger,
I sit down to weep.

How can I sing the songs of Mother’s Day,
receive the thumb-smudged card,
flowers, a phone call
from my daughter in California

when other mothers’ daughters are gone.

Bring back our girls.
If I forget you, torn from your classrooms,
dragged from villages in the night,
and if I forget your murdered brothers,

may every sweet memory
of my children’s childhood wither
and be lost to me,
may my tongue cling silent
when I want to say, “I love you.”

Remember, God, the violence
of Boko Haram
that it turn to dust in their hands.
and tear down, tear down
the many foundations of anger
built on Western abuses.

Happy be the ones
who guide safely
between the terrible rocks
of politics and economy and religion
all the little ones of every nation —
there is too much dashing.

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5 Responses to Improv on Psalm 137, for the girls in Nigeria

  1. Dawn says:

    Thank you for this, Maren. With a member who has a beautiful, gentle soul marrying here and moving to Nigeria with her Nigerian husband in Augusta, all things Nigerian are much on my heart and mind, but this is a reminder of how this horrid kidnapping is symbolic of so much more.

  2. sugruerm says:

    Very moving words, thank you Maren. I will use it in the service I’m leading tomorrow substituting ‘my’ rivers, the Waikanae and the Otaki.

  3. Thank you for the reminders and truth of this tragedy….Our tears alone can not overflow the rivers and cleanse our lands….How can a way be found to change the systemic problems in our cultures. Grateful for those who “guide safely between the rocks” and give us hope as do you Maren.

    • Maren says:

      Truly may there be more who give guidance. I can’t help but reflect that some of these young women would be the perfect candidates for this task in the generation to come. Blessings on them, whether they are!

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