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Summer 2008
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Author: Jenny Williams
Location: Belize

diamond icon Jenny Williams is a writer, editor, filmmaker, and traveler. Her literary collaboration includes work with professional peacemaker Uri Savir, Israel's Chief Negotiator during the Oslo Accords, and John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and founder of DreamChange. In 2005 she volunteered for six months in northern Uganda and South Sudan, where she was deeply affected by the refugees and former child soldiers with whom she came into contact. "The Quiet" stems from that experience. Her website is

The Quiet

I was not there when the rebels came.

I did not hear the night cries of children
or the barking of dogs, the screams of those
losing limbs, losing lives. I did not
feel the scratch of bush or the tumble of
bodies in my escape. My nose never
burned with the smell of fear or fire;
my eyes never witnessed the
swift blade of war.

These nightmares do not belong to me,
though I have felt the faint brush of their
horror in a glance, in the silence before
a woman speaks. She has lost a child, a
husband; she has heard their voices
in the bending hours between
grief and hope.

I have only heard the wind as it sighs
through the broken windows of an
abandoned school, the walls bearing
messages of children who are no longer
there: give us peace, the tiny hands
have written, the words cracked and peeling
under the wear of vine and time.

I have only felt the crumble of dry earth
in fields gone fallow, imperfect rows of
untilled soil. No seeds.

I was not there when the rebels left.
I have only known the quiet they left behind.

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