Good Friday on the Road to Goma* She spread her straw mat under the dead Soviet street lamps, patted down her long, black dress. The volcano loomed in the clouds. Between bursts of rain, the children emerged, clutched around her, numbered ribs gnawing out at stacks of fruit too green to eat. A girl in a purple polka-dot dress scratched at the flies on the top of her head, then a whisper ran through them—they looked down the road. He shimmered, slow. Heavy trucks rumbled on, the woman knelt down, deeply calloused hands on her knees. He passed by—blood and water beaded off his chin, and the old woman, the children, the road heaved and shifted down his lacerated back. *Goma is a market town in the war-torn eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Jonathan Cooper‘s poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in various publications including Thin Air, New Plains Review, Poetry Pacific, Tower Journal, and The Charleston Anvil. He lives in Vancouver, Canada.