Minya, Egypt: May 26, 2017

Minya, Egypt: May 26, 2017

by Ruminate Magazine August 22, 2018 3 Comments

Chaun Ballard's poem "Minya, Egypt: May 26, 2017" appears in Issue No. 48: Exposure.

________

CHAUN BALLARD 
MINYA, EGYPT: MAY 26, 2017 
 

I’m sitting at a Starbucks in Saudi Arabia
I’m sitting at a Starbucks in Saudi Arabia
as a bus opens its doors to receive a small load of school children
I’m sitting at a Starbucks in Saudi Arabia
as the school children giggle and bound up three steps,
a single flight of stairs,
eyeing the perfect seat to sit next to their friends with small backpacks
The children are loaded in the school bus
and they are giddy:
giddy about being children,
giddy about being with each other,
giddy about being on a moving school bus
They are alive
and giddy
When the bus driver reminds them to sit down
and be silent, I’m sitting at a Starbucks in Saudi Arabia
There are children sitting here as well
All of a sudden, I no longer think children are too young to drink coffee
Give them whatever they want, I think,
and their mothers do
I’m sitting at a Starbucks in Saudi Arabia
Many people are waiting in line to buy their cups of coffee,
and I’m no longer thinking there is a good chance the coffee is not real in their cups
The children are loud on the school bus
Some are still bounding
from chair to chair
because they are giddy,
because they are children
I know this because I’ve been on a school bus
I know this because I’ve been a child and a teacher
The bus driver is thinking about a life of servitude and silence,
taking up the vow of a priest
I know this because I’ve been on a school bus
I know this because I’m a teacher
Give them what they want, I think to myself
Give them what they want kilometers up the road
Give them more kilometers up the road
Give them the school bus
Kilometers and kilometers up the road, the bus driver daydreams
Bus drivers often daydream in kilometers on a school bus
He is Egyptian
His is a system of metrics,
and he daydreams of arriving home
Bus drivers daydream of worse-case scenarios
and the worst case is losing children on a school bus
 
Kilometers and kilometers up the road,
men wait in three vehicles
Kilometers and kilometers up the road,
men wait with machine guns
 
The children
are excited
to be
on a school bus
 
They are giddy
 
The bus driver
daydreams
arriving
 
home

________
 

Chaun Ballard lives in Alaska, but he spent the last eight years in the Middle East and West Africa, where he taught English in local area schools. His chapbook, Flight, is the winner of the 2018 Sunken Garden Poetry Prize (Tupelo Press). His poems have appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Frontier Poetry, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Rattle, and other literary magazines. His poetry has been nominated for both Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize.

 

 

Read the other poems, stories, and art from Ruminate's Issue 48: Exposure.  

Photo by Eddie Stigson on Unsplash




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3 Responses

Madeline Twooney
Madeline Twooney

August 23, 2018

Such beautiful words! Thank you for sharing!

Judith Dupree
Judith Dupree

August 22, 2018

Such a powerful entity! Yes, entity . . . it exists, has life of its own, and I held my breath all the way through. Sometimes it’s what we don’t say aloud that shakes the earth beneath. Thanks to Chaun for the exquisite pain and tenderness, and yes, foreboding. His heart bleeds in ways that matter.

Phillip Frey
Phillip Frey

August 22, 2018

Just want to say how much I liked “Minya, Egypt: May 26, 2017.”

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