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(—French. ­­The feeling of being in a foreign place, exiled.)

For Thierry R —

For three days you were like a piece of ripe fruit
Falling through a tree of many sharp branches.

But what could I do? Ice chips, damp washcloths…
Finally, the halls grew quiet,

The doctors, even the nurses departed.
It was just the two of us. Ouagadougou

Muted on CNN World cantilevered above the visitor’s chair —
A woman on a ragged pallet kept touching her face

As if she were afraid she’d left it
At the night market that kept exploding

And recomposing itself. Her eyes were closed,
Her piebald head moved ever so slightly —

A French tourist reached out to console her.

Out of the corner of my eye
While I was stroking your vanishing hair

I saw his disembodied hand
Among many others, so thin and black

They might have been sticks.
I’m sorry, he kept mouthing

When the camera drew back —Je suis désolé

The way his lips moved —
A little like your word dépaysement.

We didn’t speak the language.


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