By Melanie Han
With my pink backpack on my shoulders
I stared at you. You made sure the bus driver
loaded my two suitcases and told him
I needed to get off at Kijabe, Kenya bus stop;
you waved and waved as the bus backed up.
I didn’t cry because I was a big girl, age 9.
I stared out the window for hours, watching
the countryside of Moshi, the mountains of Arusha
change to new sights of the Great Rift Valley.
Almost a day later, bus driver let me know,
“Unaweze kushusha hapa,” so I got off.
I sat on the side of the road and I didn’t cry
because I was a big girl, but when my dorm parent
picked me up and I crawled into my new bed that night,
the smell of Tanzanian jasmine blossoms was gone,
taken over by mustiness then by saltiness
as I silently cried into the pillow,
not old enough.