by Nick Makoha

The best thing I did was move my body from one side of the world
to the other. This required a visa, which required a bribe.

The bribe, placed in the palm of a man with a gun,
took my mother’s monthly wage packet. The man with a gun

let me speak to a clerk. He too wanted a wage
because it would be his job to have words with a judge

for another month’s salary. The official wanted his bribe
so listened to the clerk escorted by the soldier as he held his gun.

As I sat with my mother on the steps of the court,
drinking soda, waiting for one man to say yes, my mother said,

“In Uganda a bribe stops men doing nothing. It rolls away the stone.”
Her sips were slower than mine, each separated by this prayer.

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