(for Mathilde who wants to go home)
by Lisa Abraham
In 1994 a little girl crept back
to the main house and knew
because the house was empty,
her parents had been dragged away,
And were dead. Knew
though she was only six
they wouldn’t have abandoned her.
Stay away from those corn fields,
* * *
the stalks the girl parted until
she opened them like curtains on a man,
machete raised above his head,
who didn’t cleave her skull
but walked her one day and one night
past packs of family dogs turned ravenous
and clever. Shared his only biscuit
then, because she slowed him down
let her to wonder alone.
In Rwanda a gentle sun sinking
is called a sky-made-for-cows
From a motel room in Bend Oregon
you hear lowing. Here the hills are green
as childhood when you grandma’s voice
called you home to dinner.
In your motel room you dream she smiles
and shouts, counting on echoes
to bounce across the hills.
she looks young, unaware
that a mob hunted her family.
She doesn’t know that her house in Gisasa
stands empty and each month packs of wild gorillas
move lower toward the ruins. She doesn’t know
her shouts echo across the hills
and all these years into your dreams
to tempt you home.