A Gift from Zhino, the Kurdish Translator at Kara Tepe Refugee Camp: pt. II.

by Marianne Peel

II.
And that morning
I had no shoes to offer
the family from Syria.
Had only flip flops three sizes too big
for the husband

       clownish shoes, good only for
       seeking a laugh
       from a choreographed stunt or fall.

And I had no maternity underwear
to offer the wife
whose belly swelled beneath her burqa.
And I had no hijab to offer.
The head coverings plastic bin was empty.

She desired a deep green hijab
with gold threads.
Wanted to drape the fabric
around her face, bring the green flecks of light
out of her eyes.

And I had no football shoes for the daughter,
who showed me how her left foot
was stronger than her right,
kicking an invisible soccer ball with one foot
then the other.

And I had no socks for the baby.
Toes cold before the morning sun
warmed everything,
even the rocks
at the roots of the olive trees.

On that morning,
I was bursting with no
in answer to everything this family needed.
My mouth was full of I’m sorry
and this is all we have
and I wish I had more to give you
and I’m sorry your feet are hurting
navigating all the rocks in this olive grove.
Shoes broken,
exposed feet spilling onto crooked rocks,
unable to gain balance. 

I could not keep my eyes from crying.
So many I’m sorry’s tumbled out of my mouth.




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