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"Camera Trap (River)" (2014), by Lina Tharsing

Along the Mississippi

Something is burning in the Iowa hills.
As we move down the pewter river,
color of our ashen skin, we see smoke,

but don’t understand its meaning.
We travel this river, its hard weather,
as if to travel south is to travel

from ourselves. This river and these hills.
Even if, in our songs, and in our bones,
we long for

another river, a great river, many rivers:
Wolof, Fulani, Kisi, Hausa, Zulu,
Mende, Yoruba, Ndebele,

Mandinka, Kimbundu, pidgin,
Creole. We did not lose our tongues.

Listen to Monica Hand read “Along the Mississippi”

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Monica A. Hand

Monica A. Hand is the author of me and Nina, winner of the 2010 Kinereth Gensler Award from Alica James Books. Before moving to Missouri, Hand was a longtime resident of Harlem, where she retired from the U.S. Postal Service.