For Aciek Arok Deng
I leave the camp, unable to breathe,
me Freud girl, after her interior,
she Lost Girl, after my purse,
dark as eggplant,
floating, open, defying the gravity
I was told keeps pain in place
maybe trauma doesn’t harden,
packed, tight as sediment at the bottom of her psyche,
dry and cracked as the desert she crossed,
maybe memory doesn’t stalk her
with its bulging eyes.
Once inside the body
does war move up or down,
maybe the body pisses it out,
maybe it dissipates, like sweat and fog
under the heat of a colonial God,
and in America, maybe it flavors dull muzungu lives,
each refugee a bouillon cube of horror.
Maybe war can’t be soaked up
by humans alone,
the way the rains in Sudan
move across the land,
drenching the ground, animals, camps, sky,
no end to its roaming
until further out, among the planets,
a stubborn galaxy finally mops it up,
and it sits, hushed,
and below, the humans in the north
with their penchant for denial,
naming it aurora borealis.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.