Somalia, Ogaden$If at another timewe tour Somalia...

December 16, 1992|By Tillie Friedenberg The City of My Youth /#

Somalia, Ogaden

$

If at another time

we tour Somalia, Ogaden,

tread carefully those blood-red sands:

sandy soils make thin graves.

Earth swallowed whole those remnants:

fragilities of girls, boys, elders,

blue-black in the skin

white and lovely in the bone.

Did we see the numb-eyed

mothers and the fathers

watch the bellies swell and purple?

Could they caress ribs sharp

! as glassy slivers

cutting through?

Warnings sounded and resounded

years ago.

We shook our heads,

cut down on our cholesterol,

jogged an extra mile a day, while

the lovely bones, and our ostrich souls,

splintered. the city of my youth has died

though no obituary has been published;

old familiar buildings have been

replaced,

old warehouses and landmarks

! have been adorned

with panels of growing glass; saloons

in which

i once torched my discontent

are boarded up,

serpentine graffiti confirm

their disgrace.

acrylic lichens mask old haunts;

the waterfront is a three-dimensional

illustration

ripped from a slick magazine

, extolling designer fashions;

i gallows walk among red brick

tombstones

no sour mists, no aromas from

distant ports,

no smell of creosote, no aging

( pilings of purple heart,

only the stirring of memories,

! of things past --

as mourners go, i am one of the last.

E. L. Maugans

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