The Boy by Jude Cowan Montague

Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam

He reads the chalked-up list; ‘banana tree’,
‘coconut’ and ‘flower’. Then he smiles.
He’s ten, so he’s the oldest in this class.

I wouldn’t have believed that once. But then,
one day when he was walking with his friend,
wearing his hat to keep the sun away

suddenly a giant grabbed his cap
to cover my lad’s face so he was blind
and could not dodge the blade that chopped his arm.

My son ran to the town to save his flesh.
The myth says spells are cast from body parts.
These rural paths twist traps for boys like him.

A thousand times a thousand times, and more
I’m happy for him to be safe at school.
If he had stayed with me he would be lost.

I miss his smile. He should be here with us.
But when he visits home, what food we make!
We love his sweet, white skin, and sad, light eyes.


Jude being helped by Jon Snow

Jude Cowan Montague is a poet and artist based in London. She has worked for Reuters/ITN as a professional media archivist for ten years and her first collection of poems, ‘For the Messengers’ (2011) dealt with the news coverage of 2008. Her second collection, ‘The Wires, 2012’ will be published by Dark Windows Press in 2015. These poems are written in response to Reuters news stories during 2014.

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