Refugee, 15 by Naomi Thiers






Fear is in your bread

and you must choke it down.

To think of home—

the courtyard with its red filigreed rug,

the peel-paint walls, how the breeze with its tang

of the Khabur River touched your just-cut hair

as you curled up, writing in your diary—

starts the slide of grief, the thundering

that blocks out sound, pulls

a knife across each breath until

you drag your body like a sack,

walking with others

toward the border.

But something rises up,

wants to live:

               I won’t be that man sitting

            on his burned porch, face a lace of cuts,

           waiting in rain for death.

Shut away now the images of home,

like your diary with its leather straps.

Preserve your young life.

Eat your bread.

Naomi Thiers’ first book of poetry, Only The Raw Hands Are Heaven, won the Washington Writers Publishing House competition in 1992. Her other books are In Yolo County and She Was a Cathedral (Finishing Line Press). Her poetry, fiction, book reviews, articles, and interviews have been published in many journals, including Virginia Quarterly Review, Poet Lore, Colorado Review, Pacific Review, Potomac Review, Grist, Sojourners. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and featured in anthologies. She works as an editor with Educational Leadership and lives in Arlington, Virginia.

Image by Mustafa.rafeeq – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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