I Saw a Tiny Woman

I saw a tiny woman on page one of the Times.

A turquoise scarf holds her flowing hair off the sticky resin she gathers.

Where are her sons? For the magenta-poppies sunset in Mayanmar,

a sole reporter treks to see her.

She stands without a man, without a son.

Her hand grips the bag, the other plucks pods to stuff into her sack.


Her joyous clothing belies the effect on our side of the globe.

As the poppies disrobe, they drip their amber juices.

Stripes on her bag tie tightly to her waist, the colors

of the earth and orange-gold poppies, her open-necked shirt

reveals burnished skin.


Her family used to grow for medicine: stomach aches, accidents,

but they too, have sons smitten to shards of themselves,

laid waste by the needle, the smoke of the resin, powder defiling the nose,

love shrinks back to the size of a seed.

The flowers open and propagate medicine that banishes pain.

Grown on hilltops, one small , qne tiny packet inside a pillowcase will feed her family for a year.


The tree-dotted fairy-land rolls to the edge of the earth.

The hills are quiet as men come for bribes pushed into fists.

Trades are made. High stakes for high grade dope from

the Golden Triangle into which our children disappear.

“Heroin,” you said, “is the drug I’m afraid of.”

And your anger rose and swept you away in a stream. I miss your smile.

Your son asks if I’ve seen you; we are partners in missing you.


Your small notebook sits by the phone.

Neat entries of names, numbers, and debts

You protected us from your compelling

need to use, took your business elsewhere.

You have covered your power with rags,

laid siege to your sanity. The pretty girlfriend,

one or both of you may wake up alive.

Which cruel world are you hiding from or in?

And your son? And your daughter?



About merimeemilhaupt

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