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War Metaphysics for a Sudanese Girl

For Aciek Arok Deng

I leave the camp, unable to breathe,

me Freud girl, after her interior,

she “Lost Girl,” after my purse,

her face:

dark as eggplant,

her gaze:

unpinnable, untraceable,

floating, open, defying the gravity

I was told keeps pain in place.

Maybe trauma doesn’t harden,

packed tight as sediment at the bottom of her psyche,

dry and cracked as the desert she crossed,

maybe memory doesn’t stalk her

with its bulging eyes.

Once inside the body, does war move up or down?

Maybe the body pisses it out,

maybe it dissipates, like sweat and fog

under the heat of yet another colonial God?

In America, we say, “Tell us your story, Lost Girl

you’ll feel lighter,

it’s the memories you must expel,

the bumpy ones, the tortures, the rapes, the burnt huts.”

So Aciek brings forth all the war she can muster,

and the doctors lay it on a table, like a stillbirth,

and pick through the sharpest details

bombs, glass, machetes

and because she wants to please them

she coughs up more and more,

dutifully emptying the sticky war

like any grateful Lost Girl in America should

when faced with a flock of white coats.

This is how it goes at the Trauma Center:

all day the hot poultice of talk therapy,

coaxing out the infection,

at night, her host family trying not to gawk,

their veins pumping neon fascination,

deep in the suburbs, her life flavoring dull muzungu lives,

spicing up supper, really,

each Lost Girl a bouillon cube of horror.

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.