{The Brown Lands}

Ewaso, Kajiado County, Kenya. January 2017.

1
Mount Suswa watches as we repair the roof
of a home. The woman thanks
us saying, “I will not
count the stars tonight.”

2
A small girl named Amaya
leads us back to our campsite.
I wonder why her bare heels are
not cracked like mine.
I wonder if my bare head would
be as graceful as hers.

3
That night, my friends and I sleep
under the wide sky,
wind rattling in our ears,
counting stars.

4
Present like the dust,
Like a blessing,
God cares for her
People.

5
When we leave,
My body is brimming
With a feeling I don’t know,
Something big, elusive.

Mary Oliver says the soul is like the
Ear bone – hard and small and almost nothing – but I think:
Can the soul grow?
Stretch and fill all the forgotten spaces?

6
In this brown land,
After a calf is born,
The mother is thinner than her baby.
Her hide hangs loose,
Her ribs brittle,
Bony knees, and tired, so tired.

In this brown land,
The mother feeds her calf
More than what she has,
The spiky grass never enough.

In this brown land,
When a calf is born,
She is soft – no brittle bones
Just yet.

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