Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, The Morning After: An Elegy, from PRIVATE 36 – AFRIKA
My husband and I gather our remaining lives
the morning after. I snatch away memories
of childhood, adolescence, college, where my life
was a bittersweet of books, boys, my father’s
discipline, politics, and the whole world spread
out, awaiting me. This morning’s bombing
is again rocking our lives and our home. A single
suitcase will have to bear all this pain.
It is August 1,1990, right after a number no
one could count were massacred in deep sleep;
today, taken before today. They lay all over
St. Peter’s Lutheran, in the aisles, on the solid
wood pulpit, twisted, in classrooms on top of one
another, a child here, a mother there, a father here,
a baby there, a heap here, a few there, our tattered
history. Where was God at 2 o’clock in the morning?
How did those soldiers push aside church doors,
reason, God? And is there anyone who can tell
my wide-eyed children how a single order could
put hundreds to death? To explain how hundreds
of troops could empty hundreds of bullets while
the world sits by? So we pack boxes of books, pots,
suitcases of clothes, stereos; we fold mattresses
and chairs, shutting blinds, windows, turning
off waterless taps so if water ever returns while
we’re gone, this home will not become a river.
These new circumstances of our lives now gather
mucus in my throat. All this time, our three starving
dogs are watching; no barking, no jumping, are they
also wondering if someone will explain where
we’re going? One last wave for my watchdogs before
refugee camps, starvation, then flight for America.
But everyone couldn’t come to America, you see.