Issue Twenty-Four - Summer 2014

On Politeness

By Jonathan May

Mothers run towards the trucks
and the soldiers, barrels-up
to sunlight, ride in the back.

They have never been so
			hungry—

Banjani abantwana?
	(How are the children?)

Ai ai ai ai

One lion cannot chase two 
antelope—

mothers cluck their cheeks
and shake their heads, watching
children run away
into the dust-storm.

The food trucks do not stop
in these small villages—

in the morning, with the skeletal
baobabs and the sun and shoes
made from old tires,
mothers walk towards the town
for corn meal.
They talk to each other.

Banjani abantwana?
	(How are the children?)

Bacteria swim their children’s eyes,
with purple and yellow
like stained glass in the church
at the edge of the town
                        that must be reached before noon.

Bayaphila
	(They are living)

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