Refugee Woman in Calais by Liza Wolff-Francis

In the jungle, I always

disappear before dark.

Even if I still wait

in the six hour queue

for the last drop of shower

or for the soup kitchen.

If there is liquor, I am gone

or if there are too many men,

you will not see me

because the men here

are desperate to have control

over something

and I aim to not be the cold rain

collected in leftover plastic.

This jungle is tarp tents

and whimper sob tears.

It is a desperation like mud

trying to be brick.

I run from one point to another

so no one has time to stop me.

In my tent, I boobey-trap

the space around me with tin cans

in the hope that I will hear them

if they come for me.

In the day sometimes, I go

to the area for women and children

so I can feel safe enough

to concentrate on remembering

how to smile, but as night comes,

I am back in my tent with my family.

Women are few here,

our skin wrapped, our hair hidden,

our eyes on watch, expecting us

to yell, to run, to call out

to any other woman

who might come to our aide

or any man who still remembers dignity

and that being human

means you have choice.



Liza Wolff-Francis is a poet and writer with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She was co-director for the 2014 Austin International Poetry Festival and a member of the 2008 Albuquerque Poetry Slam Team. She has an ekphrastic poem posted in Austin’s Blanton Art Museum by El Anatsui’s sculpture “Seepage” and her work has most recently appeared in Poetry Pacific, Edge, Border Senses, and on various blogs. She has a chapbook out called Language of Crossing (2015, Swimming with Elephant Publications), which is a collection of poems about the Mexico- U.S. border. Every day she eats both popcorn and dark chocolate and she currently lives in Albuquerque, NM.

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