Hello, there. You don’t know me.
That is, you know my name, I think,
And can, at times,
Connect it to a face.
I have made efforts to extend to you
Regard you have not thought to grant to me,
But I have failed.
I’ve tried to think of all of you as real
To imagine that like me you cry when stung
Would die for your children
That at night with your love your heart lifts up
Great wings and soars o’er
Worlds that welcome it,
But I have failed.
I’ve tried to contact you
To meet with you, to get a chance to
Share my fears with you,
To hear your fears,
To work together for good,
To give you one more chance to put things right,
To not shore up your crimes with my resistance–hey–
And yet I still contend with all my might
That stubborn in your hearts lives on
A longing for a village
On a hillside, in a valley, by an ocean–
A village in the raw salt wind,
Beside a forest,
Flanked with streams and trees,
A place of mud and meadows,
A place that smells of leather, hay, green wood,
Fresh bread, strong beasts, and soup,
A place where one must work at times
(And too, at times, must not),
A village full of friends and only good ones
Where no one knows a blow
Or slights the blessed air wherein she lives.
The sweetness of your yearning
Is your curse–
You blast it with coins and shells.
See both now lying spent and sinking fast
Into your largest captive’s wounded flesh.
Your forebears dreamed this village before you,
While living at the whim of maddened giants
(Giants who burned villages).
In new lands you found villages of friends
And with infected breath
Destroyed them all.
And later on, in Africa,Chiapas, East Timor–such villages!
Those ancient royal sites which you unselved!
There will be many villages again,
In crook of bended knee and folded arm
Of the bones of that behemoth once hailed “great.”
Be silent now, be derring-do, be fearless, byes,
And dream your village true.
The African students gave each other hell
For buying things like hair remover gel
Or ziplock bags or cereal bars or coke
Or instant rice or peppermint foot soak.
How ya gonna to get that back in Africa?
They’d scold, as if it were the ultimate criterion.
And still today when I desire to buy it,
Some new thing, just because I want to try it,
A voice sounds in my head, rich and harmonic: Ah–
but can you buy this thing in Africa?