Pereji

Gnarled hands
Twisted by lack of feeling
The bacillus insidious
Depriving nerves of function
A quiet grief
Mourning behind
The closed door of her hut

Pereji waits for healing
The promise of modern drugs
Multiple assault
and miraculously
Leprosy abates

The hands still gnarled
to some extent
but skin now
glows and shines.
Health regains
a foothold of hope

But TB was so much harder to shift
A long battle of wills,
with limited victory of a sort.
I grieve for that hacking cough
draining Pereji of joy
her weakened body
eventually broken by so harsh a weight.

Goodbye dear Pereji
We’ll meet again I’m sure
Forgive us what we left undone
Your life so rich in people
Yet poor in things.
You took nothing with you
Travelling light
as you always did.

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