Weekly Poem: ‘Your Village’

BY Tom LeGro  May 14, 2012 at 3:10 PM EST

By Elana Bell

Once in a village that is burning
      because a village is always somewhere burning

And if you do not look because it is not your village
      it is still your village

In that village is a hollow child
      You drown when he looks at you with his black, black eyes

And if you do not cry because he is not your child
      he is still your child

All the animals that could run away have run away
      The trapped ones make an orchestra of their hunger

The houses are ruin      Nothing grows in the garden
      The grandfather’s grave is there      A small stone

under the shade of a charred oak      Who will brush off the dead
      leaves      Who will call his name for morning prayer

Where will they — the ones who slept in this house and ate from this dirt — ?

Elana BellElana Bell is the author of “Eyes, Stone” (2012, LSU Press), winner of the Walt Whitman Award for 2011. Her poems have appeared in Harvard Review, Massachusetts Review, CALYX, and elsewhere. Bell is the writer-in-residence at the Bronx Academy of Letters and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.