Trailing Clouds of Glory, 1994

by William Heyen

The Hutu leader of a small Rwandan village
suffered from his government’s rebuke:
he’d been lax in “bush-clearing” —
in cutting the Tutsi from his community.
His own wife was Tutsi.  He felt ashamed.

He called a meeting so that his people
might search their own souls.
He took his four sons with him.
He confessed he’d set a poor example.
But this very morning he said,

he’d killed his wife.  Still, he declared,
this was not enough.  To achieve Hutu purity,
all Tutsi blood must be expunged.
Quickly, with one stroke of his machete,
he struck off the head of his eldest son.

The three others were dragged outside
& themselves slaughtered.  He then felt
he’d begun to do his moral duty . . . .
The village darkened with Hutu-Tutsi blood.
Metallic flies materialized by the cloudful.