Lillian Akampurira Aujo

Hypothesizing an Invading Battalion
after the 1989 Mukura massacre


It can be said that in sleek transformation we
let the wild dog of the semi-arid land knit
into our bodies:

we came through the fields
where squat orange trees danced in the haze, and
the staunch green of their leaves, shimmering and
waxy, was screaming off in citrus code and arms, defying
the distortion and dust that lay siege even to our
bodies, making us feel like we were wading through
a viscous glue.

The sun speckled stars in the river that reached
for the buried tenderness in our hearts, but fighting back
we matched forward like the good soldiers we were, intent
on completing the day’s mission. Soon in our sights was what looked
like men we could snap with the flick of a wrist,

but they turned into boys with narrow chests and thin shins.
They swung their sticks like they were an extension of their
bodies, spurring the Zebu to un-grazed tufts. Their manner held
such ‘grace’ and fluid ‘beauty,’ and before we could un-think them the two words
floundered as green floaters in our gaze.

Then slender women, with skin colored like loam after a soft
rain – their faces a smooth flow of trust, almost thawing the stones in our hearts –
rode by on bicycles, seated with the ease that men back home wore on their own
saddles, and in wonder we stared at the dust clouds churning in their wake.

Then, our throats yearning for water, we paused
at a homestead, and women offered split calabashes dripping 
with life. They rushed forward, asking: had we lost our way? And how could we
breathe when green combats encased our bodies so? 
Why was our gait stiff-soldier-like when war was a thing of the past?

And why did our skins smell of mourning forests?
Could we take a cleanse for our aches? Or did our mouths want
more akipi, perhaps some atapa for our empty bellies? And so
we ate and smiled, but the hunger for the enemy remained, 
rioting in our blood, until we could see nothing of our mothers

or sisters in the faces before us. So we romped 
from house to house, field to field, sniffing for the stench 
of treachery, all of us chanting that he who was not comrade
was nothing but dissident.

Afterwards, the sound of birds grew in our ears,
and we turned heaven-ward in search of comfort, but all we saw were whistling thorns,
and with the tip of her black wing
the Fox’s Weaver flicking her nest to the ground.