Hunger, by Natasha Labaze

Every day, every hour, every minute, every second
The stomachs growled with hunger…
The stomachs moaned in yearning…
The stomachs growled with anger…

The anger
Frustration
The hunger
Rumbled beneath the earth

Earthquake
Earth sake
Forsake
For God’s sake…


The Hungry stomachs rumbled,
So loud
Not to destroy
But to be heard

To find solace
They heaved a sigh
A sigh released with a wave of destruction
Since the distended bellies
And dusty bare feet
vanished in the dust exhaled by the proud SUVs

The earth rumbled from below
A fault line
Line between the have and have-nothing
A fault line
Cracked

The World crumbled
The walls crumbled
The high walls of mansions
Separating the have-more-than-needed from the have-less-than-needed
The walls never meant to crumble on the people
The fallen walls wanted to unite the people

See–only the walls could see both sides of the world
The splashing pools on one side
 of the colossal gates
The empty dry gallons hanging from a child’s hand, on the other

The walls could no longer bear such discrepancy
The walls could no longer balance imbalance
Of haggard merchant women crowned with heavy baskets
Dragging feet in torn flimsy sandals
Queens poising the burden of livelihood on their heads

On her head, a basket of plush and withered red
Tomatoes settled with the afternoon sun

The sound of her moaning children propelled the merchant woman
To keep climbing the hill of dry pebbles back home
To soothe the hunger of her children

The earth shook
The merchant woman now lurched
For stability leaning against the immense red gate
Her basket of unsold tomatoes spilled right past the now
Open metal gates
That daily used to slide open like a magic curtain…
Just in time for the woman, her children
To peek at the bright yellow house wrapped by a royal porch…

This time the gate remained wide open
Splashed on the ground the tomatoes
Smashed against the arms and legs of
The boy that must have slid this magic gate open
Every day
The boy’s legs now buried under loosened cement blocks
Blood-stained…
Was it blood?
Was it her tomatoes—the blood she shed and struggled to sell
The blood he shed….
The suffocating dust rose like a shroud

The yells and moans rose

Her children’s stomachs grumbled…
Rumbled with hunger…

for 35 seconds

The world stood still
noticed
Just for a moment…
Offerings poured into the
groping hands surging from beneath the parched
Curtain of dust
Hunger rumbles beneath

The earth…

***

Natasha Labaze is an English teacher in Massachusetts. Her parents are Haitian and moved to the United States in the 1960s. Her late mother instilled in her a complex love for Haiti. She has published a prose poem entitled, “Reflections on Water”  among others in the online literary magazine, Tanbou.  She has also published a piece, “Love Letter to Haiti” in Bronx Biannual, Issue 2. The original version of her poem, “Hunger,” was published online by the Women Writers of Haitian Descent, Inc.  She performed this revised version of “Hunger” for the Lydia Arts Fair and for a fundraiser for Haiti.  Natasha Labaze’s most recent poem, “A Moment of Silence” was selected for a local poetry/art exhibit.

Natasha Labaze can be reached at Nlabaze@gmail.com

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