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Wednesday, August 03, 2022


by Orel Protopopescu


We lumber along and sway  
closer to death, stirring dust
like the skirts of the women
eternally searching for water, 
jugs on their heads, 
their children like bundles
of sticks on their backs.
We are searching for water,
but keep finding death
in the soot of the grasses 
that once waved to us.
Who took the rain clouds, 
the green from the trees? 
We walk a parched path
where leaves crack and fall
 like birds from the sky.  
We remember the pools,
the pools where we played
before days dried in blood
left a burnt orange haze
of dust in our eyes. 
What drives us, who hunts us, 
what beast made of heat?
With the children like sticks
we keep drinking the dust.
We drink and they drink
until tongues turn to ash
and milky eyes close.
And now we’re forgetting
the clouds and the grasses,
the haze of the heat
with no name and no face.
We’re forgetting the children
who fell on this path 
where our tongues turn to ash
and our clouded eyes close.

Orel Protopopescu has written prize-winning works for children and adults. She won the Oberon poetry prize in 2010 and 2020. Her first biography Dancing Past the Light: The Life of Tanaquil Le Clercq (University Press of Florida, 2021) received a starred review in Library Journal.