Hand Sanitizer and Protein

The care package arrived from my sister
in South Dakota to a postal box in Kigali, carried

on a bus to our farming village of Gachurabwenge.
Our answers to email pleas for hand sanitizer

and protein. Inside, packets of jerky, tuna, and Spam.
We laughed, recalled lunch plates of Spam and rice

on Kauai and the time I won a can of Spam for a haiku
contest. It seemed a joke, but we tucked it into our clothes

trunk where mice couldn’t get it. A week later, after a tough
day of Kinyarwanda lessons and the trail of t-shirted kids

shouting Muzungu! Ndashaka amafaranga! (White person!
I want money!) Late afternoon, before our host started a fire

to cook the daily rice and beans we’d had twice a day for seven
weeks, we closed the thin curtain, locked our bedroom door. While

we sat on our flea-infested bed, we first read aloud every word
on the wrapper as if it were a greeting card from home, then tore

the foil seal with ceremony, shared the single salty slice bite-by-bite.
I want to remember my husband’s voice so kindly offering me

the first taste as if our wedding vows years ago included: to eat
Spam in sub-Saharan Africa when you turn to each other, gaunt.


Jari Thymian

About Jari Thymian

Jari Thymian’s poetry has appeared in various publications including tinywords, The Pedestal, Prune Juice, Bottle Rockets, Ekphrasis, FRiGG, The Furious Gazelle, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and American Tanka. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Web and a Pushcart Prize. She volunteers year-round in state and national parks in the United States.
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