By Jason R. Moffitt II - Peace Corps Volunteer, Madagascar (2015 - 2017)
It was Easter Sunday and at the table sat my mother, father,
Grandparents, my two younger
Brothers, a fellow volunteer and myself.
This was no ordinary lunch by any means—
It was a celebration.
We normally wouldn’t drink out of glass
Cups and would never drink coke, but
Today we broke both of these rules.
My host dad, Jules,
Asked me to say the prayer that day.
After the blessing, we
Conversed and exchanged smiles with lots of laughter;
However, the lunch took a sudden turn.
My father explained how grateful his family was
And how much he appreciated me as his third son. In broken
English he said, “I wish for you to have
A good life in Sava. Today, today, today…
My family is… sad that you go— ”
Seeming to have been lost for words, his head
My mother rested her hand upon
His shoulder and upon doing so, he slowly
Lifted his head…
My father, a man
Who I had come to know as one
Of the strongest, toughest individuals in town
Had the countenance of someone
Who had just received news of the
Passing of a loved one.
His mouth trembled like an earthquake,
His eyes were clouded with tears, then
Instantly broke free like violent waters
Crushing through levies that could no longer hold back…
Staring back into his eyes my heart found it difficult
To hold back its emotions, which in turn,
Caused my eyes to fill with stubborn teardrops
That somehow found it difficult to fall
But suddenly his mood
Was brightened, and smiles and laughter
Filled the table again.
After lunch I
I told my dad that it was okay that he cried
For Jesus, also wept.
This poem was entered in the Volunteer category for the 2015 Peace Corps Poetry Contest. The contest received more than 1,000 submissions, representing over 50 years of Peace Corps service in more than 100 countries.