On average, more than 50,000 refugees relocate to the United States annually.

                                                      -Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


The burning in her

private place. The fever


and the pain.

The mother, sister, neighbor, aunt – the women


she would ask, who’d know

the song, the salve, the herb, the way


to touch her skin and help her heal – all

gone: lost


to that ruined land she left

just months ago.


No choice now

but to face the foreign


doctor, his

big white hands, his


strange white speech.

No one to translate


her body but her teenage





Author’s Note: (First published in the print journal The Healing Muse, Fall 2015).




Jennifer L. Freed lives in central Massachusetts. When not mothering, writing, or teaching writing workshops, she tutors ESL for refugees. Her poetry has appeared in various journals including Poetry East, The Worcester Review, Cloudbank, and in a chapbook These Hands Still Holding. More information is available at her website: jfreed.weebly.com.