Volume 22, Number 1

Saving Grace

Every year, new idealist volunteers,
more tourist than missionary, come
to save us with their insect repellent and
books. They build tombs from our jaws.

They only see our eyes to spotlight them
yellow. They prefer white in everything,
except souvenirs. They teach us
to build fences around dirt and name

our children after men in their churches.
They burn water to drink. They cut trees
for more dirt. They always leave
more excited and weighted down

than they arrive, stories of squalor
and righteousness overflowing their egos.
When their vegetarian ethics condescend
to our tongues wet with dead cow and air

salted by methane, we thank a God
they do not believe in for food. Their words
crawl in our heads like maggots in a bird nest.
Our eggs are broken.

—Colin Gilbert