Refugee

No cruel tyrant drove me
into this strange land
where I have arrived
without a map,
a hoard of silver
in my hair,
and all I could carry:
Balanced on my hip, the weight
of small children I’ve read to,
swayed to sleep,
none of them mine.
Over my shoulder,
slung in a blanket
woven of days, a pot worn thin
by the steady scrubbing
of generations of women
doing women’s work.
I shift packets
of other memories:
the jelly jar of water
my mother set
between us to clear
our brushes in;
and the tiny bones, as fine
as pins, my father arrayed
on the edge of his plate
as he spooned flakes of fish
onto mine. I go on, knowing
what I carry is enough,
bundled now, simply, in words.

Sandra Cutuli

 

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