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My mother sewed air raids,

yellow zig zags, blue rumbles,

people running, red.

No language, but stitches

pulled in

and pulled out,

needle a tongue.


At thirty, she left England,

where she had hidden

in underground shelters

from fatal thunder--

hunger, the constant--

sailed home to Cape Town,

guavas, avocados, and quiet.


In that quiet a bus roared.

She shot under a table, crouched,

her left eye trembling.

That eye signaled trouble when

I was late coming home,

like the silence of a Doodlebug

before it exploded.


In her mind, she was shaking,

always in that air raid shelter.

I couldn’t get her out.

Published in Passager

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