Pale eyelids, dark brown eyes—searching for escape.
What will it be today? A machete or a
gun that dooms your face into that final photo.

Little girl, you had no choice but to
grow up quickly. In your nine years of life,
someone should have told you the
whole world isn’t like this.

When you walked up to the mass grave,
you saw your Mama. Twisted body,
dried blood, and decaying skin.
You crawled into the stench and held her.
No tears flowed—just a determination from
a girl wanting her Mama back.

Staying to long, you played dead as the
soldiers passed by laughing at what they did.
With fear gripping your tongue, you didn’t scream.
Your bravery, something to tell later.

When you left the grave, the image stayed in your eyes as well
as a piece of cloth from your Mama’s dress.
See her smile as you cooked supper together.
Hear her laugh as you played.
Hear her tell you not to wander to far away.
All these things a Mother does.
The cloth now pressed close to you.

Another family saved you, escaping
on a long and sometimes frightening trip.
In southern Illinois, refuge was taken. And as I
listened to your story, I took your hands
as you finally cried.



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