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ISSUE:  Winter 2012

Photo by Marcus Bleasdale

They told you that their enemies surrounded
the women, the countless rapes fifteen miles
from the border, even on the outskirts around
camps, how the women speak little, their smiles
like broken carts. They told you even though
they are alive, their skin smells like the carcass
of dead goats and sheep, how a sweet rage grows
in their hands sturdy as desert flowers, how they pause
with fear whenever their children sleep.
They told you about children dying on the walk,
about sons taken from homes and shot in the street.
They told you this in gestures and with dimming eyes—
but no words and no poems or stories. You hugged a man
and felt in his body the one brother he prized
above all else, lost to rifle fire. The yellow jerrycans
in a woman’s hands, another whose walk
in the market told of the red dust sand she breathed
as she counted the minutes. Even the scavenging storks
brought news, the inexplicable horrors seething
at every checkpoint on this earth. A clarity burns
your face, so that when you head back home,
lifting up and away from the airstrips’ macadam
rippling dry heat, rising back to your own land,
a green so rich it hurts, happy to return,
you hold your son, as your eyes tear like a monsoon.

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