Good Friday on the Road to Goma – a poem by Jonathan Cooper

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.

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