Around the smoldering huts of Hamada, the dead
smudge brown grass: naked babies with bashed-in faces; charred schoolgirls
bound together and burned alive; gelded men who bled to death, their voices,
thin like wind through a cracked window, whispering to Allah.
What gods there are have killed them. But no
hyacinths sprout from their blood.
The gravest danger I face? A woman from match.
Biracial with gray eyes and corkscrew curls, she drank half a cappuccino at
Starbucks on Sunday and can destroy me by not returning my call.
What gods there are have killed them. And I —
I have done nothing.
I touch the thick muscle beneath my breast and
feel it pumping, pumping, pumping blood to my arms, legs, head, chest.
Some believe there is a hand that whips
the winds into hurricanes, a fist
that gives the sky the occasional black eye.
If God does exist, it can only be
that he left us and found a new and younger
to shoot his comets through. And if
he paid Earth a visit for old time's sake,
would anything here interest him? Would he,
wearing the stratus clouds like a wind-blown
stroll across the continents
and hop over the seas? Would he
pluck palm trees from beaches and, in one
blow their fronds off like a child blowing seeds
off a dandelion? Maybe. But if so, his one wish
that his new universe has not left him
for a God with a gentler touch.
Dana Crum's fiction has
appeared in Gumbo: An Anthology of African American Writing, The Source,
Bronx Biannual, AP English Literature & Composition for Dummies, 64
Magazine, African Voices and carvezine.com. In 2003, NPR
affiliate 91.5 FM WBEZ Chicago broadcast a dramatic reading of one of his
stories as part of its Stories on Stage program. Crum's poetry has
appeared in Writing and the anthologies Taking Root and Voices
Rising, both published by DreamYard Project Press. His articles have
appeared in alternet.org, The Source, 360hiphop.com (now
bet.com), Black Issues Book Review, Writing, Princeton Weekly Bulletin
and princeton.edu. Crum was a semifinalist for the 2001 Raymond Carver
Short Story Award at the University of Washington and for the 1998 James Fellowship
for the Novel-in-Progress. In 2006, he served as a judge for the Hurston/Wright