Feast of Saint Augustine Zhao Rong and his Companions,
When is peace a peace that means something of lasting
significance? Is peace the absence of in-your-face-in-every-
village-every-day-every-other-day carnage? With the
living dead left along the road by the living fleeing? With
the dead left to bury themselves or be picked apart bit by
bit by ravenous songbirds?
Is peace only peace after the ‘keepers’ of peace go away?
There is calm this year in this part of Masisi.
Yesterday, I watched army ants devour a discarded
Today, I helped to build a shelter out of recycled scrap
from the old bombed-out buildings. This shelter is for
mothers working the monastery’s fields with their infants.
Today, while collecting rocks and bits of bricks,
I found half of a human bone, from an arm or a leg.
I am no expert. The old monk with me told me so.
It weighed nothing in my hand. Porous. Bleached clean.
And I placed it at the bottom of a hole I had dug out for
a post support, and pounded bits of quartz and brick and
dirt down hard on top of it.
Some say upwards of seven hundred refugees who had
survived Rwanda and that genocide were butchered two
years later in the basement of this abbey here. The cement
is still stained dirty red. Machetes.
I dug my postholes with a machete today. A versatile tool.
Yesterday, I leveled out a foundation, from the side of a
hill, for this shelter for the women, using a hoe.
I then took a walk
under the pines
out to the monks’
The cemetery has been cut out from the pasture by a red
hedge of aging poinsettias.
Nada, nada, nada…
a flower garden with worms
and bits of bones about
six feet under.
without my camera,
with no one to share
I looked for something
to hold me tight.
the pine needles clutching
cotton clouds climbed
of orange and
I dragged my walking
stick all the way home.
Past column after column
of ants on the march.
At war with the world.