Downcast eyes, dusty feet, an infant on her back,
heading to the wadi, down the foot-worn track.
Named for her grandmother, Ayana, the first-born,
a proud tribal woman of the African Horn.
Mired in displacement, pride stripped away,
simple life survival is the order of the day.
Local village elders, protective of their well,
prices unrealistic for the water that they sell.
Walking for the water takes an hour at least,
hunger in her stomach like a lurking beast.
Refugees together, the women seldom talk,
saving all their energy for the desert walk.
Safety in their number, sisters of the war,
glancing furtively around, nothing ever sure.
Children wait till evening, no morning food,
hungry bulging bellies, the menu rude.
Widows flung together, dealt the famine's deal,
Fuel gathered sparsely, cooks a meagre meal.
Ayana mourns her children, lost on the way,
sharing little comfort at the end of the day.
Weary, oh so weary, head bowed down,
babe at her breast, her face in a frown.
Soft words she utters, in a plaintive prayer,
talking to the God she knows is there.
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