When everything has been taken
and what remains behind are miles,
paths of footprints in earth;
when most everything known
(other than what one carries
inside a mind) is not here,
when one, alone, surrounded
by loss arrives at a camp,
an expanse of tents and questions,
data is taken, items are given:
food, clothing, bedding, utensils, pots,
jerrycans for water, cans of cooking oil;
resilience and will transform emptied cans
to planters: inside those tins, just outside
a tent’s flap, soil becomes home for seeds.
stringy plants seem too frail
to bear the weight of their fruit:
tended, they survive,
a line, a link, a memory,
a smell, a taste, the familiar fact
of picking and cutting and cooking.
A trade; this tomato for that onion,
becomes a market, vegetables
lying on sand, on a cloth,
their cost, a cause to speak;
the words, the exchange, this is known.
Lori Heninger is a writer, poet and nonprofit executive is Executive Director of The Montclair
Fund for Women. Her over-30 years of experience in US- and internationally-based humanitarian and development work is the basis for much of her poetry. Lori received her PhD from City University Graduate Center in New York City, and currently lives in the rural eastern United States, with her husband, two dogs, a cat and six chickens.
The poems that follow are powerful evidence that Poetry Speaks Back to Hunger!