I've been trying to write a poem about genocide,
about a young boy from a village in Sudan,
who hides in the brush while everyone else
in the village is hacked to death by the Janjaweed.
I catch a daffodil sneaking into my poem.
It is yellow, and has six points.
The flower has been personified in so many
poems, it has acquired the power of speech.
"Hang it up," the daffodil says, stem writhing
in my grasp. “You can do nothing to stop
the massacre. On the other hand, give me water,
soil, and sunshine, and I will bring you bloom.”
He returns to a silence broken only by barking
dogs and the flapping of vulture wings.
Death hangs in the air. Bodies and parts
of bodies litter the unpaved streets.
Some of them he knows. Some are beyond
recognition. Anger and anguish divide his heart
with shouts of fury and wretched wailing.
He is thirteen and suddenly complex: a man.
8,500 miles divide me from the village in Sudan,
while I am literally touching the daffodil.
When I close my eyes, I see no yellow fields.
Only silent, blood-soaked roads.
Fred Longworth's poems have appeared in numerous
journals including California Quarterly, Comstock
Review, Pearl, Rattapallax, Spillway, and Stirring. He
restores vintage audio components for a living.