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Syndic Literary Journal

Tigray Song

by Britta R. Kollberg


How to even start? The beginning:

the biggest hurdle, like the first inning—

but this is no game. I write with dust instead of ink.


Once, one red balloon would do for a child’s perfect harmony.

Today, our love needs no token; what counts is how many

balloons we can heap on a child for our money.


At the same time … I follow the famine in Tigray, embedded

through photos and news of the drought. Cup in hand, from my pillow in bed, it

looks like an African folktale: the wolf walks off full. From my TV, no smell evaporates off the dead.


How can he allow this to happen, we accuse

the Almighty.

Not we, in fact. I know I am mighty myself, with my western ID

that serves me Orange Pekoe and more: I only buy far-traveled, hand-picked, First Flush black tea.


How, from here, can I hope to one day resurrect?

And what will it look like? Those bones crumbling on and my head, gratefully proud, still erect?

Meanwhile … water falls and falls from the crazy colorful fountain nearby, people feed the pigeons which wrecked


the benches. I want to kill them all, the pigeons. It’s time to act.

Yet, I crumble ink on first-class white paper. My new jeans are carefully ragged

as if to detract the balloons, my red pen, and the biggest hurdle: a perfect finish, in fact.



Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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