The word archive, by Meron Berhanu

I search for 1973. The year our family name became tragic. Nothing is saved from this year.
Even though my mother remembers the newspapers. Perhaps that is why she came to
England with an old backpack. No space for photographs.

I search for 1973, woman shot in front of her children. Addis Ababa. There are questions the
internet cannot fathom, let alone answer. Like: what was she wearing?

I search for 1973, husband kills wife in front of their daughters. Addis Ababa. 1973. 1973.

I search for synonyms of tragedy. For photographs that do not exist, were never taken or
never kept safe. I search for concrete history, for someone else to say yes, this happened. This
mattered. I search for someone to believe me.

I search for things the internet cannot fathom. Like: when was her birthday? My mother does
not remember. The strength of one memory can wipe others out completely.

I search for a memory that is not mine. I search for 1973. For a year to exist again, to happen
in front of me. That I could be a part of it and offer my hand – to hold her – to keep her safe.


Published 18th November 2021


About Meron Berhanu
Meron Berhanu is a poet and short story writer from Kilburn, London. Her work can be found in The Black Anthology by 10:10 Press, 22 Under 22 by Flexible Press, Poetry London and Lucent Dreaming magazine. She was shortlisted for the Beyond Borders Prize and Working-Class Writers Prize in 2019.