Tessa Fontaine


At the Liberian Refugee Camp


i bring an orange to share with you, Glory. The mothers arrive afterschool and sit behind Fun With Dick and Jane. Today they practice th. I can help with th. This orange, fat in my pocket, walking, as I pass the board naming the missing. There. December’s sweltering. The mothers read Jane.

I tender you this small globe, Glory, of which you can be master. The mothers come when the children go. Mother’s mothers. Glory, you say: now I know your people are listening because you are here, but I am the only one here, I won’t tell you, I’m nineteen, I’m leaving. The roads are dirt. The walls, dirt. The floors all dirt. Think. With. Myth. I carry one orange for our afternoon break when you will come outside and sit with me.

Fun With Our Family. Fun Wherever We Are, the mothers recite. The peel of one lumpy, yellowish orange in the dirt and plastic water satchels from forty-two thousand neighbors. You say don’t you believe in Jesus and yes I do now, if you want me to. When Jane runs out loud, a young mother claps. When I walk in the classroom, everyone claps. Ten classrooms. Clap clap clap clap clap. We’re learning what Jane can do. Two hundred mothers and I carry one orange to share with you. Glory, the sound of prayer? Orange. Prayer. Orange. Prayer.



Tessa Fontaine lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where she sometimes watches friends peel cicada husks from porch columns. There are no cicadas in Woodacre, California, where she is from. Other writing can be found in Creative Nonfiction, The Normal School, Brevity, PANK, Fugue, and more. She teaches creative writing and performance in prisons. If you know any good jokes about cicadas, or other subjects, please get in touch with her.

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