My Refuge, in Literary Mama

Quick link: A Djiboutian Refuge

I’m excited to share an essay I have published today at Literary Mama. I actually wrote the first (rough) draft of this essay a few years ago, as part of an exercise in a class at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. We were supposed to write about place and the place I tried to capture was my yard in Djibouti. When I read the piece out loud to the class, they clapped and encouraged me to continue working on it. I returned to it off and on over the years and eventually felt satisfied enough to send it out for publication.

I am amazed at how, even though this particular essay reflects a time of life years ago, it connects to recent events, with the suicide bomb attack in Djibouti on May 24th.


We had such an amazing yard at our old house, with wonderful Djiboutian neighbors living downstairs and our family upstairs. All of us miss the yard and the friends, though we are grateful for our new house as well.

Here is an excerpt:

My yard in Djibouti is a porous refuge. Thieves climb over the stacked stone fence, braving shards of glass and barbed wire for a single handful of ripe dhemal fruit. My iPod disappeared from the car one morning, along with the car battery, and when there are riots, smoke from burning tires curls between bougainvillea bushes.

I sit on the brown chipped-tile steps and the coolness seeps through my skirt. I lean my head against the metal banister, hoping for some relief from the sweat and it clangs against the wall where the nails have wiggled loose in the five years since we moved in. Lucy, my youngest, is running around the house and I time her on my stopwatch. She comes around the corner, jumps over the one-wheeled faded green scooter, and slides toward me.

Click here to read the rest of A Djiboutian Refuge