A place of foresaken lives

Camp Mornel, Western Darfur — The day Momma planted the remains of the bird beneath our home, she used his beak to scoop our rice.

“We cannot eat him,” she told me. “His meat smells of disease.”

In the camps, they promised us everyone would have enough brick, but soon, the pallets ran out, now, even the pallets’ lean-to. Before we pressed the dirt of an assigned plot into the upturned nest of our home, Momma sat and watched the ants work for a queen too buried in the breast of the Earth to be discovered. In this way, Momma’s gods weave many tunnels, all of which risk collapse.

Amina’s infant hands clutch stilly to each other. Even she acknowledges when the breast can only be extra cushion for the heart. She does not cry, although her skin maps the surface of new bones with barnacles of flesh.

I see my grandfather’s dead fingers in her ribs. How Amina molts sternum from self, how she moves on and away, I cannot know. She pants the breath of age-blind dogs.

The moon hangs heavily above us in the shape of an elephant tusk, hers is the only ivory left. Hyenas argue in the distance. I see the parts of a human skeleton grasped in their mouths. They aim to reassemble it; they aim to take away our feet so as to reteach us the scrape of the Sahara against our shins.

—Mason Schoen is a creative writing graduate student.

—This is a piece of fiction and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Daily Aztec.

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A place of foresaken lives