Stop Sign

Location

Gayaza, Wakiso
Uganda

Five feet from the stop sign, scraped and shivering

From the streaks of air that buffeted

All the world but you.

 

You squatted on that plastic stool.

It couldn’t have been more

Than a foot tall,

But you  leaned against the metal rod

That jutted out from the earth.

 

You sat,

And you read.

 

The carnations you sold

Were just an accent

To the subtle color you exuded,

A pale yawn reflected against the sunrise,

 

Your face not worn,

Not blooming.

 

Constant.

 

You’d already tried on a dozen other masks

So you could settle on this one.

How many days have you sat

On the corner of this place,

Handing splotches of petals like

Talismans in exchange for dollars.

Window down,

Page in the book saved,

Trade for a trade,

You’ve remained.

 

In this place,

The only warning

Is the flash repelled from

Shards of past blows,

Glass glittering in headlights too late,

Too close.

 

Masked by suffocation of night because

It is empty,

Here,

In this place when your buckets of bouquets

Are emptied,

Your everyday mask slipped off

So it can leap onto day with dark,

 

Trade for a trade.

 

The scraps are nothing but

Someone else’s new past.

 

This poem is about: 
Me
My family

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