I read this poem in Uganda and I presented it as a lament for my sister's cat, a little kitten that was trained not to go downstairs in the yard because it wasn't safe, and one day it escaped, went down into the yard and was torn apart by wild dogs. The poem is of course informed by the war that is going on in the north of Uganda, the wild dogs in fact are tearing children apart who call themselves the Lord's Resistance Army. It's called A Verandah Ceremony.

A Verandah Ceremony

This is where the kitten died
This is where the kitten died
In the yard below, unfenced
The wild dogs came as if on horses,
Or a Lords Resistance Army
With machetes, with spears and rifles
The wild dogs came all claws and barking.
This is where the kitten died.

This newnew kitten three weeks old
Must avoid a kitten’s fate
Must clear the house of lizards
Bugs and insects and not stray
Beyond the safety gate where the dogs
All tooth and claw still lie in wait

Where the dogs still lie in wait.

from Looking Out, Looking In: New and Selected Poems(Anvil Press, 2009), © E A Markham 2009, used by permission of the author’s Estate and the publisher.

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