I wrote this poem in 2000. I rang the East Timor Human Rights Centre to make an appointment. Ana Noronha told me that they were compiling a register of names of people who died and who were missing. She also told me that women in East Timor were picking up bones from the ground and secreting them in tais (the traditional cloth of East Timor), until they could conduct remembrance ceremonies with dignity. I was moved to write Bones (Ruin).
I have learned that though few of us are poets, when circumstances in life move us very deeply, the need to speak from the heart can become overwhelming and often it comes in poetic form. This was one of those moments for me.Available in Tetun and English.
Ruin(Bones) Translated into Tetun by Eric da Sena
Ema nia ruin hakoi iha inan rai nia laran Inan sira mak hakoi falun iha tais nia laran Inan no fen sira hein ni-nia oan, maun alin no aman hein atu fo sai buat nebe sira hare’e. Lia-subar nakukun sai ba uut, nahe ba rai hanesan buat aat Ema sala laek, mate ba dame la tuir nia hakarak halo iha inan sira nia liman tais nee sei fila atu tane ita. hanesan sira halo ona iha moris sira halo tan iha mate domin fila fali ba dalan moris nia ita moris iha ema nia ruin nebe falun iha tais ita hein dame atu fila ba inan atu selebra ita nia domin ho sakrifisiu ita moris iha ema nia ruin nebe falun iha tais Bones Bones buried in mother, in the earth, buried by mothers in woven shawls mothers and wives wait, children,brothers, fathers, wait to bear witness dark secrets, turning to powder, piled violently tenderly innocent, in death loved unconditionally passionate holes, ripped through woven love crafted in mothers' hands these shawls return to hold you as they did at birth they do again in death love returns the circle of life we live bones of people secreted in shawls we wait, for peace to return you to mother to celebrate our love and your sacrifice we live bones of people secred in shawls I weep deeply for you for our agony we live bones of people secreted in shawls the world is enlightened it looks at last to your sacrifice for peace and truth
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