Aroha (pity)

Dirt roads and ragged clothes on
emaciated children, pitied by those
cut from the soil, rich with compost,
in the West.

Streets paved with potholes,
and blood pools, seeped red
with road kill, that will
find a new home inside
the stomachs of those without one.

Arms ache raw with
rotting bug bites,
dark feet scarred with
untreated gashes.
Hot nights endured
with dreams of a
modern heaven known as
air conditioning.

Houses decay under heat,
swelling feet find relief
on a stranger’s tapa cloth.
Close your eyes. Imagine
a world where the brown
dirt that cakes your skin
runs down your body in muddy swirls
that will disappear down a drain.

Wake up to the moonlight.
Sweat slick on your skin,
thick cream on your feet,
cicada’s call from the night,
and covering your body is
a white cotton sheet.

Stephanie Bennett is an Australian student currying studying Creative Writing in the United States.

Art by Florence Liu 

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