I followed the line, red like an artery.
‘Nightmares are the worst,’ she said,
‘always a bat biting my neck, the lions’ roar,
and the guns.
Eight years old, I saw my whole family
shot. An old man took me in: ‘fourteen years
I had two babies.’
Nothing to give but my ear, boned bridge
between her world and mine. The sun shadowed
her face, dusk velvet skin, well of her eyes
sunk into ravines, as she spoke of her children:
‘They think I’m dead.’
‘I was taken under the premise of work,
ten years before I escaped, got myself here.’
She was the eye of the desert she’d crossed
to another bleak country, sharing a room
with four other women, cleaned houses for money.
‘I’m just a number,’ she said, ‘The Red Cross
cannot search, find them, until I have asylum.’
Her voice like a violin in a distant room;
I stormed terrors by day, ran from them at night.
There’s a cathedral in everyone, our own religion.
The reason we become evil is no one will listen,
hold: a chalice, for the suffering of our wounds.
Dark continually folding over light, I climbed
walls, reached to ceilings, held candles, my heart
a stained glass window, host to love, and betrayal.
My altar the feet that brought me over sands,
fierce waves, the moon rising, pulling me on.
I am always running, even as I sit here,
close my eyes, see a young girl, braids in her hair,
crying for her dead mother, children not yet born.
A child chasing red sandy tracks, orange dust
at her heels.
I still smell the hunger, the lion’s famishment,
sun setting to the music of night time drums,
the sound of gunfire still rings through my body.
Hope kept me going, taking from each day
what dawn had to offer.