By Christopher Knapp - Peace Corps Volunteer, Niger (2009 –2011)
You took my hand one time only:
at our parting, which surprised you.
After thousands of words and hundreds of meals
had passed, you put my hand in yours, one time.
Your hand was sandpaper, callused and rough,
fingers fixed to curl around a plow,
nails caked with dirt from morning prayers.
It felt like home against mine.
You took my hand one time only,
before I caught the bus to leave Kornaka.
You took my hand and said “my son,
remember the telephone
This poem was selected as a finalist in the returned 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.