Murambi (Rwanda, 2008) – Editor’s Choice

There is no smell of death here. Even the lime

has faded from what it was meant to preserve.

Atop this hill, everything feels small and

possible. I convince myself that school is out,

each classroom merely waiting. A holiday perhaps.

The grass is a twisted maze that yields sound

but no music. The battered doors, some still

stained a faint copper, were once tinged with

a dark burgundy. When the breeze troubles

their rusty hinges, a pinched song overtakes

the concrete skeleton that remains, rises up

like a warning siren to anyone within earshot.

Midday rests an unrelenting blade against

our faces. A child on the abandoned soccer field

is full-out sprinting as though a stadium

full of souls is cheering him on.

Nothing there will ever again grow. His mother

is somewhere, getting water or gone. The man

I am with will not give me his name or ask for mine,

leads me to what every foreigner thinks

they came this far to see. They still use machetes

to cut the grass, among other things; he reminds me:

it is a most useful instrument.


Carlos Andrés Gómez is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet who is pursuing his MFA at Warren Wilson College. Winner of the 2015 Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in the North American Review, Rattle, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in New York City.