January 24, 2014

Safehouse. ~ Shira Yael Bronstein {Poem}


standing still on the side of the pot-holed

road watching the song Tao careen

away, its passengers everyone I knew in the entire country

Kim stood beside me in a turquoise

windbreaker and work, dirt-caked

sea green crocs, her blonde dreadlocked head casting

about to make sense of her surroundings


Safehouse. whose appearance did not live up

to its name: rusted fence, cracked lock

a young, weathered man with no

shoes standing guard, an absurd dreamy smile

plastered across his grimy, tear-stained


point of no return, isolation

excommunication, protection for those testing positive

a dilapidated structure set back from the gate sentry

bottom level laid open to the world columns upholding

a lofted communal bedroom overhead


below Burmese women weaving focused

with the speed of expertly skilled fingers

exchange of smiles searched

for native with knowledge of our

tongue without success and following panic

joined the artists with our broken

Thai they did not understand as refugees

ignoring the language barrier

gesturing excitedly


a lanky man in a tattered tank and shorts

dashed through carefully organizing pills as

patients materialized on schedule nervously

shifting under our stranger’s intruding gaze

the medicine man proudly pronounced his

few English words

explaining each bottle

filled with healing as Kim’s nursing

eyes took in each name quickly

sifting through her brain for

recollection of diseases and cures



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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: acnatta/Flickr

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