• Lorraine Johnson

[34] In a Village

An ear of corn and an old man's hunger,

near banana trees and cassava leaves

and a village square that one must flee.

I thought it time for dialogue,

for tears to fall that not yet felt.

I thought the moment a time to think,

and found it was I who tried hard not to sink.


First I stood full of rage

and tried to talk myself out of the page.

But then it was told I chose to be,

as one with thee

under the canopy of a wannabe.


The students waited near the tree,

so trample down we went,

to watch it unfold before our eyes,

as if we were going to high tea

or perhaps some kind of guarantee.

I hoped, inside, to unfree what we supposed to be,

a decree that would punish this one old and gentle man,

once shame was made with all its might

for a theft occurred, and a hand must bite.

Arrived we did, the students and I

and others behind and in tow,

to find but a few and nothing so told.

The leaders declared there was nothing to see

and marched we all did back to the heights of the trees.

Where the bare rooms and windowless frames

found stories untold and left unconcerned,

for an ear of corn and the plight of a man,

and the conflicting views of his kinsmen.


So I took my breath and silenced my disagree

for a moment better found there would certainly be.

For today was the day that humanity would rest,

alongside the buzz of the honeybees' nest,

and the shade of a tree and a man set free.