Dreams of a Detainee

An image of the bottom half of a person walking across the sand with a shadow stretching out behind
Detail from Girma Berta (ETHIOPIA), Moving Shadows XI (2016), digital archival print, 40 x 40 cm / Courtesy of Addis Fine Art

after Inji Efflatoun

Sarah Hegazi      Malak al-Kashef      Nazli and the witnesses      Israa al-Taweel      Sahar Ali
Sulafa Magdy      Hadeer el-Hady      Mahienour el-Masry      Nora Hesham      Renad Emad
Yara Sallam      Wafaa Abelqawi      Hoda Abdelmoniem      Seham Osman      Sanaa Seif
Kholoud Said      Radwa Mohamed       Esraa Abdel Fattah      Sama El-Masry      Marwa Arafa
Azza Soliman      Haneen Hossam      Mawada Eladham      Sherry Hanem      Amal Fathy
Sherifa Refaat       Ola al-Qaradawi      Hanan Badr el-Din       Aisha al-Shater       Manar Samy
Eman Al-Helw      Menna Abdelaziz      Bassant Mohamed      Mozn Hassan       All of us

Do they still dream and if so tell us of what
because I’m at a loss all awash in darkness or the
recurring dream of being detained imprisoned fined
disappeared tortured solitarily confined killed for the
utterly mundane or the utterly righteous.

For posting a meme, tweet, song, poem
For wanting to keep your ancestral lands
For dancing on the internet while unrich
For your gender or who you have sex with
For having a body that’s looked at by men
For helping the tortured and traumatized heal
For feeling safe enough to raise a rainbow flag
For “debauchery” and disobeying “family values”
For saying the country is ill-equipped for this virus
For saying a pandemic spreads faster in prisons
For saying detainees and prisoners are people too
For being a journalist, writer, translator, publisher
For being a lawyer defending all the above
For being a woman


a woman                                                                                                              a woman

                             a woman               a woman              a woman


A woman in Egypt with not enough money or clout
to keep you out of the maw of military court

the jaws of a chewing state with a taste for those who
dare believe and act as though they’re free.

They don’t care about the lives of women, why
would they care that we dream.

Nour Kamel (she/they) writes and edits things in Egypt. Their chapbook Noon is part of the New-Generation African Poets series, and their writing can be found in Anomaly, Rusted Radishes, Ikhtyar, Sukoon, 20.35 Africa, Sumou, and Mizna. They helped create and facilitate writing workshops at the Contemporary Image Collective, which led to the publication of The Taste of Letters / طعم الحروف and Our Bodies Breathe Underwater / أجسادنا تتنفس تحت الماء.