Refuge

by Matthew Shenoda

Somewhere on an island
people chanting
while a man looks back for answers.

His words are written
in stackable blocks
spoken only in night.

His breath is long like his body
always fixed in time
lost in the shadow of itself.

He knows community is plausible
he feels its embrace
he sees it from his window.

But his is an African lament
riddled with aging flowers
waiting for a wayward bloom.

The petals fall inside themselves
like magnificent gazelles
open to a dune horizon.

Their quiet descent, a trail,
like pollen on his fingertips
a colored reminiscence.

The insistence on memory
drives him to the forked river of his childhood
the spring blooms awakened.

The echo of the chant, catches his ear
and pulls him back into the room.
This room.

They have all traveled distances
from those waters
and now, here
a foreign sound on this land.

But they have found a place to gather
as the cymbals crash
while he hears this ancient telling.

This thing that pulls him back
And fells him forward like a tree
familiar, perhaps, to those beside him.

Those who come, too,
from the forked river
whose misty banks rise through them.

We are nothing more
than a collection of things remembered
a chant to bring us home.

 

Poem copyright 2020 by Matthew Shenoda. All rights reserved.

&
See more poems from Matthew Shenoda debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: Local” and “Revelation: Africa: Diaspora.”

 


Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Essay | Writing Prompt

 

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