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Image by Yannis H

My Mother & the Starving Children
By John Grey

So many years later

and children are still starving in Africa.

My mother was right at the time.

She’d be right now if she was still alive.

But she never could make the connection

between me pushing away the veggies on my plate

and those pictures of kids in the newspaper

with skinny arms and bloated stomachs.

 

So many years later

and I eat greens that were never

dreamt of in her philosophy.

Like brussels sprouts for instance.

When I was seven, I’d have called Child Welfare

had she dared plopped those down

like some alien invaders

in the midst of my dinner.

Even broccoli and artichoke meet

with my approval.

Only asparagus remains off-limits.

Serve me that and I’m a boy of seven again.

 

So many years later,

and what I eat is my decision.

No one stands over me.

No one criticizes what’s left behind

when I’m done.

And nobody reverts to clichés.

I can screw up my face

without fear that the wind will freeze

that look for all time.

And I can sit reading books

without going blind

or wrenching my back into a permanent curve.

 

So many years later

and children are still starving in Africa.

But from lack of food.

Not disobedience.

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