Camping Trip

By Alen Hamza

The needle has lost its compass,
Brother has seen the bear,
Father is turning back.
But the tent is new!

Mother says,
I want to use it.
The look she throws Father
is a beggar’s look only at first.

We camp three nights.
I save ants from frozen morning
ground, Brother kills them
leading up to lunch.

Father pulls out yin and yang,
Mother sends him to a field of manure.
You and your Eastern philosophizing, she says
and cooks beans to upset father’s stomach.

I laugh uneasily: beans don’t agree with me.
But I’m young and it’s too early to admit
to a failing like that—a Balkan child
unable to digest beans.

Under an oak Brother pins me,
hovers above me.
Spit hands from his mouth.
It grows thin and long as it moves

to kiss me.
I’m not afraid of you, ant killer!
Mother leaves the tent at midnight,
clearing the air in front of her.

Father dreams.
Brother snores.
I count the stars that glue themselves
to the nylon roof.

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