The surgeon begins
to reconstruct, of shattered
membrane, small crescents,
and a gelcap of artificial
blood to weep.

Without a face or a name,
her body’s logic
tells her she is ruined, but she
has at least escaped her captors.
No longer a child.

She relives the fear, the shame
of slavery in salt-tears that
blotch her niqab like raindrops
fallen from a great height. She
wants to be new again.

As she tells
her history to a journalist,
she exposes
one thin arm above the wrist
where she cut and inked words

that maintained her,
drinking bleach,
and pulling the trigger of
a gun she thought was loaded,

and after
strangling herself
with her scarf—
all that failed her.

Although the surgeon sews
a blessing he fashions
to explode,
then disappear,
she says she’ll never marry.


Photo: veiled girl in old Marib (18-6-05) by Jon Bowen