The Distance of Limbs

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Wednesday, May 02, 2012

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Copyright Diana Markosian (source)
The Distance of Limbs

Couples must meet in public
and sit a distance from one another.
Physical contact is forbidden before marriage.
This is what I'm told. That, in Chechnya,
the touch of flesh must remain as
patient as reaching limbs.

Some may believe distance is frigid.
A frozen tundra of want between lips.
Icy sea distancing hands.
But cold is never near when
flames flicker and dance.
When roots of hearts spread.

Chechen girls who engage in
"illicit relations"
are considered to have loose morals.
This often will lead to an honor killing,
a tradition publicly supported
by Chechen government.

We fire words like bullets at loose morals.
The only injuries we incur are
broken hearts or wounded pride.
How many are afraid to risk even those.
In Chechnya, a woman's lips
mark her for death.

Yet, in the crackling heat of distance,
all thoughts of consequences burn away.
Reaching branches grow
across the void, defiant of an end.
The heart takes root;
blossoms.

Lovers become
braver
than soldiers.

~Dale Wilsey Jr.                                                  

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There's a blog I follow from Boston.com called The Big Picture. It features hi-res photos from around the world on varying subjects and events in human life. Their most recent photo essay "chronicles the lives of young Muslim girls who witnessed the horrors of two wars and are now coming of age in a republic that is rapidly redefining itself as a Muslim state...The attitude towards women becomes more conservative and tradition-based. Females are considered submissive and are expected to act demurely in the presence of men."

The photos, taken by photojournalist Diana Markosian, portray the subject in such a strikingly beautiful way, it's impossible not to be moved. Many of them have inspired me to scrawl down my reaction in any words I could muster. Some are difficult to find any words for, such as the photo of Chechen poet Ruslan Akhtkhanov's family mourning his death. Akhtkhanov was shot down in Moscow for his anti-seperatist views.

Ruslan Akhtkhanov's family mourn his death. Copyright Diana Markosian.

It's easy to ignore problems facing the rest of the world. And maybe some of us would rather not know that in some countries women are kidnapped and forced into marriage. Or that some are murdered by their own family for the crime of love to protect "honor". Ignorance can truly be bliss, but it's still ignorance.

The next time you clasp hands, kiss, or even hug the one you love, remember that, in places like Chechnya, simple gestures of love, or even to support the freedom to love and equality, could mark you for death.

The rest of Diana Markosian's photos can be found here: The Big Picture: Young women in Chechnya