Because I Know
By Abigail Hunter – Peace Corps Volunteer, Georgia (2014 – 2016)
There’s a woman in the yard planting
Flowers, and a boy
Running through the olive green grass,
Yelling hello in a tongue that was once foreign to me.
A girl sits on the ground,
Playing house with filthy tea cups and her hand-me-down dolls.
In the kitchen are the women,
Cooking, and baking—for guests and family.
Their brows have sweat and they hum while they work,
Kneading dough and hammering it hard against the wooden table;
Bang, bang, bang.
A timeworn radio, that looks nearly broken, plays a song and
The melody sweeps through its speakers and surrounds the little kitchen,
Where the women work.
Snow lays still on the mountain, but it’s warm where I am.
My cat jumps in my lap, purring;
It rubs its head against my knee.
The days seem endless here, bleeding into one another and I wonder if I’ll make it
To the next.
But I do.
Sometimes the ceaseless routine breaks;
I step into the kitchen and cook with the women,
I play house with the little girl, sitting on the ground,
I even play football with the boy running through the yard.
I think to myself, in my native tongue,
Have I always lived here? Is this how it’s always been?
The flowers are blooming now,
Spring has arrived.
Another season has come to pass.
I think to myself, “why am I here”
After all is said and done,
And I go to sleep,
I know why I’m here.
This poem was selected as a finalist in the Volunteer category for the 2015 Peace Corps Poetry Contest. It was selected from more than 1,000 submissions, representing over 50 years of Peace Corps service in more than 100 countries.