How Many Does It Take To Burn A Teenage Girl? by Kristin Garth

How Many Does It Take To Burn A Teenage Girl?

 

for Nusrat Rafi

 

How many does it take to burn a teen-

age girl? Bangladesh, sixteen are sentenced

to die — as trial unfurls, new villains seen,

unsentenced, your tragedy. For instance,

the cop who leaked it to TV, victim

statement of what was done to you. Crime by

police, this time, you live through. Rigged systems

protecting patriarchy while you try

to hide a face you know they see. Tell

this officer, soon you’ll be dead. Just two

weeks later in a hospital bed, expel

appellations from expiring tissue,

eighty percent of you sixteen erased.

You die. He’s still a cop some other place.

 

 

Author’s Note:

 

This sonnet is from my manuscript The Stakes (forthcoming

from APEP 2020). The Stakes is a collection of poems about

fire being used as a tool of misogyny against women historically

and in contemporary times. It tells the story of two 19 year

old women in disparate parts of the world — Bangladesh and

Mississippi who both died in the last few years by being burned

alive. Nusrat Rafi, the subject of this poem, is the 19 year old

from Bangladesh. Sixteen people were sentenced to death for

burning her after she reported her principal of her school for

sexual harassment. The officer who leaked her recorded

victim statement to the media shortly before her death

was not sentenced for this illegal offense

just transferred.

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of twelve books of poetry including Pink Plastic House (Maverick Duck Press), Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), the forthcoming Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press) and The Meadow (Apep Publications, 2020).  Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website http://kristingarth.com

kristin november