Another Country


Sarah reads her poem “Another country” to the sound of Marieke playing the ukulele.

How can we live, without our lives? – John Steinbeck

In my head I’ve travelled to this country many times.

Now I wonder where the pictures are that lured me here:

the jobs, the shops, the smiling faces.

I cannot read the signs. Private property.

Dangerous dog. Keep off the grass.

The rows of houses neatly trimmed,

the parking places for the cars.

Words skulk beneath my tongue.

Can you. Will you. Help me. Find a life.

People turn away. Office hours are from nine to five.

In this world of paperwork

I, who have no papers, are not here. 

I didn’t think I’d bring my country with me

but it came to visit, uninvited,

wound itself around me like my mother’s scarf.

Each night I travel to the village where my house once stood.

The brightness of the sky that lights the herd of cows

stumbling through the plains, all skin and bones.

The empty well. The tainted earth.

Nothing grows from gunshot wounds.

In the dust I find a child’s hand.

How can I build on other people’s bones?

I seek another country where there’s room

to breathe, the air is sweet, a scent of lemon leaves.

A door is open. Someone calls my name.

S.R. Harris