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My mother at 12

 
Poster: "I am too young for marriage." Child marriage, Nigeria.

This poem was originally posted on World Pulse, a media network powered by women from 190 countries that lifts and unites women’s voices to accelerate their impact for the world. World Pulse is a member of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage.

At 12, She wakes up at dawn to fetch and clean;

Before she struggles to prepare the family meal.

At 12, Her tender back is bent from the load she struggles with;

A weight heavier than her, but she carries it still.

At 12, Her hands are chafed from scraping the char off the pot;

The black coal more natural on her, she bothers not to wash.

At 12, Her worry lines are deeply etched in;

The trials and pains her mother bore are now her cross to carry.

At 12, She has already felt the harsh blow of her husbands’ fist;

As she continually fails in her service to him.

At 12, Her feet are used to the sun burnt path to the water hole;

As to it she trudges day and night in duty to provide for her family.

At 12, Her waist has carried the burden of life;

And she loses more of her essence with each strife.

At 12, My mother carries me in her womb;

And I wonder at my fate as a girl coming into her world.