When my mother was dying,
South Sudan, the world’s newest nation
was just being born.
She and I talked about places
she could ask people to send money,
instead of memorial flowers or
“wherever you want,”
which sounds like it is personal,
but really means — send nothing at all.
In 2011 Japan was rebuilding
after the tsunami.
She thought about that for a while
but she heard on the news
(she was blind and could not see the images)
about terrible hunger in East Africa.
“A town called Juba,” she said.
“Maybe I could help there.”
When I was young, being hungry
meant breakfast cereal for dinner,
with two cans of water,
cutting a candy bar in three pieces
On Friday, Juba again was front page
of the New York Times.
It is Ron reath, the hunger season.
Four years of civil war
have chased people from the farms.
Relief workers are targets,
and children are malnourished.
In refugee camps
people are eating leaves.
I remember listening to my mother
crying for them.
My mother’s name was Elizabeth.
This year the most popular girl’s name
in South Sudan is Nyaring – it means “running.”
It is always personal.
Public Domain Images — 1)Wikipedia 2) Unicef