Decca Muldowney contributed this piece to our Feminist Issue. It’s set against the backdrop of Syria, but relates to anywhere there are ruins and survivors…


Illustration by Catherine McConnell

Ruins by Decca Muldowney

“We will continue with whoever survives.”
– Female activist, Syria, 2013

now I see we don’t survive it —
not like that, at least.

when you said no gets out alive,
you meant no one gets out alive, but also:
no one gets out intact.

suheir hammad wrote:
‘if a body can carry through you follow’
but sometimes the you that follows
looks a lot like something else.

well, we build from pieces, don’t we?
we build from the ground up, didn’t someone say:
we aren’t afraid of ruins, not even
the ruins of ourselves?

                                   Oh, she looked not like
the ruins of her youth but like the ruins of those ruins —
those ruins where we live where we breath where we
break bread and break heart and break through.

I am not in the least afraid of ruins:
we build up from beneath debris, yes,
we build the wall with the bricks that are available, yes,

we will continue with whoever survives.

Feminist Issue - Page 29