An Education in Zambia
Mary M. Brown

You tell me school is just a room somewhere
with a swept dirt floor, some children
who have walked or run through

town, hours through the scorch
of morning, an adult or near adult whose
credentials are a red pen, wet, not yet dead

with the simple means and dogged will to mark
mistakes. Here there is nothing to eat
though everyone is hungry, every

one with an empty stomach, children
putting into their mouths the foam from
some old pillow made in China, wads of paper

bits of anything left by those Americans who
could not for the life of them figure out
how to demonstrate the difference

between edible and inedible, you
yourselves confused by the difference
between need and want, between comfort and

home, between right and rich, good and God
amazed that here there is no art but
in the drums, space is bare, no

color other than the shades of mud
layered into walls, no pedagogy but the sky
the heat, a native resolve to claim what is yours.



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