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The phone rings,

you’re there, all sun, war and heat.

You’ve decided to drive

over the Ugandan border,

the jeep all rigged—

it’s a done deal,

but I beg anyway.

Nairobi’s slums burned,

ports closed, no gasoline,

so you fill up with what you can get,

strap the jeep with tools and jerrycans.

In the morning

our daughter hovers at my bedroom door

lunar and rumpled,

she must have overheard me on the phone


Silently she assumes her throne

over the heater,

plots her revolution,

the warm air puffing her white nightgown

like a Queen Toad.

She reading me, reading her.

When her brother Will

tries to share her space

she jabs him hard in the ribs,

anger spilling red down her face and chest.

And it happens again,

whereby war, however diluted, however transformed,

however many times removed, has spread,

whereby the suffering of Kenya begets Uganda,

begets my husband,

begets me, begets Ana, begets her brother…

Later in the mudroom, getting ready for school

I see Will kick our tiny old mutt.

Perhaps it will end here, with this dog

who pees all over the house,

sleeping on the couch all day long,

cataracts like clouded moons,

for now, noble keeper of the passing flame.

The school bus arrives,

my children chatter,

emptied of their small wars

they skip lightly toward its open door,

the dog limping eagerly behind.

from RefugeFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2013
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Adrie Kusserow Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.