Scratching Back
Suzanne Ondrus

I can’t remember what it was or where it was. But it was three weeks ago.
We were somewhere and you said to me, “It must go like this.”
Then you abruptly took my hand, and I pulled back a little lighter,
trying to escape, but you can never escape from love’s grasp.
I wonder what I said. If I was harsh or silent.
Something scratched.
Some mark was left short, like a dog sniffing dry leaves.
Can you name the primary colors in English?
Can you speak about politics in English?
What name will you take to fit in this new country?
I cannot speak your native language. I know only European languages.
And you don’t want to go there.
Europe is what for you? A beehive waiting to ingest all the Africans?
You can’t really see me.
I am just a beautiful white woman who takes you inside her wide mouth.
I am silent when stolen from.
I am stupid, fumbling “Bonjour” instead of “Bonsoir,” a fool smiling at
strangers on the street. And where does this lead? What can I accomplish
here in this red land?
I came because of you.
I came for a dream.
I came because of a feeling.
I wanted the sun of Africa to shine on me. Now, my dream, my feeling are
moving with the Harmattan, scattered beyond sight, they are impossible to even touch.
All I have is dry air and dry air.
And I don’t know about its duration; I don’t know when it will return.
Perhaps it’ll be when one day,
in the living room, swinging your hips and shaking your behind,
it begins to rain,
the water entering through closed shutters,
wetting your bare feet

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