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Missionary Child

By Barbara Hiebert

Africans say the whole village
raises the child.

In our case it was the numerous
aunties and uncles, and mahogany ladies
with pleated saris floating
down to their spangled ankles,
walking barefoot in the compound dust.

Within the peeling plaster walls
defining that sacred ground,
hands and eyes kept us safe from
scorpion stings and snakes.

We spent entire days under the burning
Indian sun, scavenging red velvet bugs
that scuttled between the cracks,
climbing pagoda trees
near the veranda, and running wild
in the peanut fields,

unaware that children in the United States
would consider us poor
for not having a t.v.