In this lugubrious land
where coltan and fighting decide to rhyme
where the Congolese and its splintering neighbors forget
what they’re really fighting about,
it’s easy to not hear Parfaite’s dive into a lake of dreams
and dismiss the battles fought on her brave brown body
like she was the war.
What happened to simple desires unattached to the manufactured desires of outsiders
like fu-fu pounded fresh, obnoxiously yellow
mated with deep fried Nile tilapia
that Parfaite had pulled a thousand times from Lake Kivu
like Sundays after Mass when she moved with the shield of some god’s word
like those voices of the market folk haggling just to extend the day
like the dress makers exciting Parfaite’s sense of her own beauty
with a bounty of pagne sold by the meter.
When the sun was obnoxiously yellow
and the cries for justice and the fall of machetes clashed in evil dissonance
Parfaite carried a basket pregnant with the bloom of coffee flowers
and she hummed a tune to match her simple delight
when he attacked
with a broken bayonet and a mercenary’s penis
in front of a basket of fallen flowers
not just her vagina, but her place in the world.
Parfaite returned home with her story between her legs,
backs briskly turned,
time did a wicked dance
she was left with life inside her belly
and would never be welcomed.
and now carrying a sinless sprite pushing for its own attention
Parfaite, wrapped in new found pieces of pagne-audaciously yellow-
returned to Lake Kivu
to the memories it held
to the sustenance it gave
to the laughter of the its fish
and with a pardon to her god
she jumped in
tightly holding on to her sense of her resplendent beauty
and humming a tune to lull her baby into a watery dream.
Sojourner Ahebee , 16, is a 10th grade student at Interlochen Arts Academy. Originally from Cote d’Ivoire, Sojourner now resides in West Philadelphia when not away at school. Her poetry has been published in Stone Soup, Teen Ink , Apiary Magazine and Red Wheelbarrow. Sojourner’s poem Listen to Africa was recently published as a poster for sale by the Syracuse Cultural Workers. http://syracuseculturalworkers.com/poster-listen-africa Sojourner has maintained a culture blog for teens for the past four years. It’s called Sojo’s Trumpet: http://trumpetworld.blogspot.com/