Orphans by Gabriel Furshong

Quetzaltenengo, Guatemala

At the river edge
choked with litter
children pointed and shrieked
ran away laughing

a cow had given birth

the placenta swung between her legs
dribbling blood over plastic water bottles
empty bags of chips


In the nursery
kids everywhere
tumbling over the couch
sitting on stairs

two more on the kitchen floor
with their eyes on Elena
who does one thing at a time


After dark
headlights slice the dusty road into pieces

smells of grilled meat
motor oil

men curse beneath a truck

an old woman
with a sack of oranges on her back
shuffles in the dirt

everyone as tired as the shepherd
asleep in his wheelbarrow
no calf in sight 


Gabriel Furshong writes from Missoula, MT, where he works for the Montana Wilderness Association. His essays and reporting have appeared in High Country News, the Earth Island Journal and the Cobalt Review, among other publications. His poetry has been printed or is forthcoming in the anthology, “I Go to the Ruined Place,” (Lost Horse Press), the CutBank Literary Magazine and the Cossack Review.