Wide marble pockets
made the front cover of Newsweek.
I marveled that this swarm of orphans,
barely divorced from walnut nipples,
could march a thousand miles
up hunger's chronic hill.
The Lost Boys removed
from the coffin's lip like
tea cups stuck to a saucer
of sugar gone hard.
Puckering bark leaving the poisoned tree.
We would manicure their nails,
remove the caveats of death
pressed between a moon and thumb,
pass them the white of the dream,
a French fry warmed in our oil.
America, they said,
as if we wrote this alphabet,
was the garden waving goodbye
to the thorny fence.
"God carried us";
we trust the biceps of prayer
to fumigate this carpet of blood.
Distended stomachs shrink
into the fiber of luck.
Copper we shun
in quest of the gold.
Fingers would cherish a book
the rest of us spurn like homework
on a weekend night.
A church built by littered skulls,
the lint of snapping pencil bones.
No innocent windows for eyes.
The rattle of snakes for a waltz.
Straight from the grave to a movie set.
I study the shape of their hands
tearing at skins of tangerines.
About 17,000 Sudanese children fled their farming villages during a civil
war in 1987 and began a tenuous existence in the bush. Most of the survivors
were boys, as the girls were killed or sold into slavery. International
refugee workers dubbed these children "The Lost Boys," after
the characters in the novel Peter Pan. After months and years of starvation,
hunted by lions and hyenas, living on leaves and bark, most ended up at
the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. They cannot return to Sudan because
the war continues, their families are dead, and they have nothing to go
back to. America has taken these orphans under her wing, but assimilation
is a daunting task.