Migratory Patterns
by Carol Alexander

The Somalis arrive in a winter gale.
Over shash and kameez they wear military surplus gear
with thin, inadequate shoes.
The pastor herds them into her church;
a student stops the organ he's been hectoring.
Round-eyed babies stare at stained glass, blood rush of sky.

The pastor leads them under bare hawthorn trees.
Small fingers pluck the berries; mothers stare out to sea.
Wrapped in shoddy, their flesh is flesh of refugees.
Who had dreamt this kind of cold?

Geese cut triangles from the air, geometric symmetries.
The travelers are learning winter, unrehearsed,
hatchet blows to the skull. Waves mutter
that lack the grease of slow roiling rivers, the muddy flood.
A dance of bone begins.

Later they wilt in steam, watch the settlement's TV.
Under his hair the dictator crimsons, spitting snakes and toads.
We are unwelcome says the most fluent one.
He is thinking of Oori Ismaris, hyena-man. Nothing is solid,
neither berry nor glass. Smoke rises from a bitter tea.


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