Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The Shells of Her Memory"

This poem came out of the July 7, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by [personal profile] kelkyag, an image prompt from [personal profile] curiosity, and Shirley Barrette. It also fills the "Old things (heirlooms, antiques, nostalgia)" square in my 6-10-15 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.

Warning: This poem is sad and references past deaths.

"The Shells of Her Memory"

Ethiopia has almost dried up
and blown away this time.

A little girl walks toward
a refugee camp, carrying
her baby brother on one hip.

Their village is gone.
Their family is gone.
Even the teacher who
took them in after
their mother died --
now she is gone too.

All they have left of her
is a cowrie necklace
too big for either of them,
but the older sister
wears it anyway, lulled
by the shells of her memory.

The drought has swallowed up
everything they ever knew,
hotter and drier than
either of them can recall.

The rains have finally come but
it is too late to save their people.

The cowries are chattering
at them to go on, go on.

In the camp there will be food
and water and shelter.
There will be a chance --
however slim -- to recover,
rebuild, and begin again.

They will get through this,
but they know, even so,
their lives will never
be the same again.

* * *


Ethiopia has a lot of problems with drought.  Here are some charities responding to drought and famine in Africa.

The cowrie snail is a marine mollusc that makes beautiful shells. Cowrie shells have been used for money, divination, decoration, and many other purposes especially in Africa.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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