Rana Plaza: Shaheena*


Rescuers work at the collapsed Rana Plaza complex in the Greater Dhaka district of Savar. Photograph: Zuma/Rex Features

I woke up in my grave before I died.

Not once, but time and darkening time again.

I’d heard the floor explode and then the space

that was the room changed places with the wall.

I was drowned in brick, was gripped, was turned

to dust, became a mote of broken plaster,


A woman miraculously pulled from the rubble 17 days after the Rana Plaza collapse of 2013. (AFP/Getty Image)

became the blinded space within the crack,

a gritted tongue of gravel filled my mouth.

I moaned—a kind of ecstasy this death.


But I was not so dead I couldn’t hear.

I heard the fire fighters’ calling, and

their weeping. They said we came for you

before we knew your name. But oh, we lost you

to the sour greed of flame. 


Nancy Otter

Rana Plaza: Shaheena will be published in a collection of her poems, by Grayson Books, in 2017.