Sparked by Words

A Walk to Darfur

Footsteps, two impressed across a hot shore, singular in

Width and curve but universal in contour: right foot then left

Female, all toes present. Circles and lines of footprints

Circling everywhere yet nowhere of importance, no urgency

Toes squish into sand, sea froth propels imprints toward

Currents surging between highways of migrating whales

Mixing with ocean currents that crash onto beaches

In Africa

Footprints, millions impressed into parched desert earth

Stones, sharp edged, cutting into weary, barefoot flesh of

Solemn boys and hollow girls. Heels and toes press for safety

Skin black as core, eyes plead, voice a language I’ve never heard

Words of their fathers and mothers, ghosts maimed and slain

Haunt the journey of these children, alone, seeking haven

Forcing their feet to bear the weight of flight, the quest

For refuge

Only fortune chose me for an afternoon strolling at the shore

While these children march into the fear of night, away from

Known terror to unknown future. Stalwart grandparents

Remained in Africa’s torrid cradle amid the realm of ancestors

My footprints match the children’s bearing ghosts of Africa

Their toes as long as mine, the arch of their feet as high.

They walk. They flee across Africa’s night, black as

Snuffed stars

My claim the bounty of my grandparents’ choice

A million years ago when the sun burned beneath their feet

Walking from the cradle of Africa to Europe to ships bound for

America where I, descendent, wander on a glazed beach

Aimless steps trekked on hot shore, washed by seas

Luck the gift of my heritage, I walk a tranquil coast

The children walk on vital paths. Tomorrow I walk

To Darfur

Copyright Sharon Bonin-Pratt 2013

Author’s Note: This poem was written a several years ago and refers of course to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan in the early 2000’s. While much of the conflict in Darfur has been resolved, the dichotomy of fortune has not been repaired for so many in our world. I hope in this season of joy and celebration that we all find a way to bridge the chasm, whether via an invitation to share at table, a donation to a worthy cause, or an act of kindness for someone else.

May you enjoy the holidays with your loved ones and may you be blessed and recognize your blessings.

(Addendum: I have absolutely no idea why the site insisted on boldfacing some lines of the poem. It is not written this way and I can’t get it to correct.)

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Comments on: "A Walk to Darfur" (4)

  1. The legacy of footprints is powerful. The Laetoli footprints that told us so much about a family of earliest man–man and woman and children traveling with (maybe) animals. The footprints of god in Footprints in the Sand.

    Those tracks tell so much about man, what he is, where he’s going, his energy level.

    Wonderful piece.

    Like

  2. This is a great poem Sharon. It brings home how we are one, the only difference being that divine intervention led to our destinies being worlds apart. One that has and one that has not. You may have written it in response to the Darfur genocide but it has the same impact today with what is happening in the world. One can only pray that one day our left and right feet have the same ground beneath them.

    Like

    • Irene, I love what you wrote: One can only pray that one day our left and right feet have the same ground beneath them.
      Thank you for adding such insight to my poem. Yes, I did mean it to transcend Darfur; human history narrates too many inequalities.

      Liked by 1 person

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