Nancy Vorkink

Rookie (New York)

3: 52 Mst Denver - Poem by Nancy Vorkink

Daniel calls.
His voice mature since Voinjama.
He says Happy Happy Birthday!
With gusto.
My ears become attentive
To his speech rhythms.
I want to speak Liberian English.
26 years ago, a bright student
Today, a father humbled by war.
It’s midnight there. Humid.
Hot, sticky. Can hear the crickets.
It’s Africa.
I am touched- he sounds next door.
His voice is sharp. He’s calling
From the camp, all refugees
In Ghana.
Happy Birthday, Siahwanda!
Her voice is tinkerbell clear.
Happy Birthday, Grandmama!
I chuckle to myself.
Again, I clear my throat.
How old are you Siah?
I am six years old.
Quite assertive indeed
And well-spoken.
What did you do today?
I went to school; again strong.
I know Daniel has less air time.
Jemima, let me speak to her.
She starts singing Happy B.
We both start laughing.
We laugh some more. I love her.
Time seems endless.
If I were there, I would sing
Better, she says. Ah. We have a gift box
Coming to the camp in November.
Thank you, she says.
Jemima asks what did I do today.
Walter and I went for a walk
In the woods. Long pause.
Hello? I forgot.
Africans don’t walk in the woods-
Reminder of warfare, wild critters,
And not a birthday thing.
Yes, we miss you, Nancy.
I don’t want this call to end.
Jemima, let me talk politics with Daniel.
A quick minute passes.

So, what do you think, Daniel?
It’s a process, he says. How smart.
He thinks it will be the soccer star.
Says Ellen is tripping up. Division
Between other candidates. We go on
And on like in the palava hut.
I am so happy to hear your voice.
Tell me more, Daniel.
Click. Silence.
His time is up.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Poem Edited: Friday, July 23, 2010


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