Bundled back to back, shoulder
to shoulder, women and children
jolt in silence in the fugitive truck
until it stops. Men ahead shout
Muslims out! Fatima Yamsa plucks
the nearest Christian’s sleeve.
Please, take my baby. She tenders
Shamsia into stranger’s hands.
Her uncle’s in the next village.
Fatima, her two little sons and
all the other women and children
stumble out into the dust of this
getaway road. Next to the mosque
and the mango grove, Christian
vigilantes, machetes, knives.
Eight months later, in the next village,
Aalaji Yamsa cradles his niece
Shamsia, shining star. She lives
because a Christian loved her
neighbour. I didn’t even get her
name, he says, but I think of her
also, as Shining Star.
Sue Norton lives and writes in York.