or if you hear the gurgle that is blood in her cheek
as she slumps into a puddle
while the drunken crowd jeers.
Meanwhile, back at the Lake Victoria hotel,
the hibiscus lashes its red
tongue into the cool night,
wealthy muzungus* spread their stiff white napkins
starched and white as calla lilies.
Hush, sweet boy,
swollen broken nests of these slums,
I can hardly breathe
but for the rotting and the birthing.
For now, cooing, clueless, you can hardly see the difference
between the squashed condom
the man threw at her in disgust and the crushed
lily flattened by the muzungu’s high heel,
between the bleeding, the bleeding from everywhere there is an opening
and the languid arch of the red hibiscus
sprawled against the night.
*Muzungu is the East African word for white person.
Adrie Kusserow is a cultural anthropologist who works with Sudanese refugees in trying to build schools in war-worn South Sudan. Currently an associate professor of Cultural Anthropology at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, Kusserow earned her PhD in Social Anthropology from Harvard University. She is the author of two collections of poetry, both published by BOA Editions, Hunting Down the Monk (2002), and Refuge (2013).