The woman carries an aid box on her head

By Moya Pacey

Dressed in a shapeless abaya
she is neither young nor old.
The cardboard box has moulded to the shape

of her black-veiled head, she holds it steady
right arm extended, narrow wrist exposed,
fingers at full stretch.

Her face uncovered and her gaze calm
unhurried she turns to the camera,
eyes narrowed against the light.

Behind her in the photograph, men
walk along an ancient road
towards the open gate of the refugee camp.

The men wear jeans and warm jackets.
Some have hoods pulled around their faces
others bare headed. All empty handed.

The scene might belong in a book of bible stories.
The story in which the woman goes to the well
balancing a ewer of water on her head.

The one where she meets a Good Samaritan.

(First published in Moya’s poetry collection, Black Tulips (Recent Work Press, 2017).)

Artwork by Jackie Benney. Published with permission of the artist.



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