Dawn bared their states of undress, mocked
the women’s peasant propriety
as homes crumbled and the bush waved in vain
its green scarves for peace. They huddled under trees
and counted a bomb when the ground shook, till
it rumbled as if the god of thunder
had changed his throne. Fear stilled the ungovern-
able mouths of babies strapped to backs with
bedspreads grabbed by instinct at the moment of flight.
Crickets, outshouted, scurried
in dazed circles around children too stunned
to stretch out a hand, until hunger matched fear
and the men, far from yam or fish, turned insect
hunters, wild root diggers. Banished
from fire by fire, they ate their food fresh.
It was dark when they fled their beds,
dark again when they knelt in silence,
prayed the invaders to accept victory and go home,
but heard the ground tremble, the sky rumble,
and the trees wave again in vain.