Summer of 1985, and the Ethiopian sun bakes my head as I wait for our driver to pick me up from school.

Waiting for mummy to come back from her shopping, I’m hungry and practice my break- dance moves in the living room.

The TV’s on but it’s in Amharic- so I don’t bother to watch.

Mummy’s home!

The cook hefts a sack of rice from her car

and heads for the kitchen.

Dinner’s going to be ready soon-


Mummy says the store was selling real cheap bags of rice-

so, why not?

Daddy comes home

We sit for dinner and Mummy boasts of her bargain rice.

Daddy stops eating.

He gets up and walks into the kitchen.

Perplexed- Mummy and I.

Daddy comes back, disappointment clouding his features.

He says the sack has ‘FOOD AID’ stamped on it. Did Mummy not see?

Mummy, aghast, hurriedly removes our plates and tells Cook to make something else “ASAP!”

The news never showed it here on the TV

but our friends in the US sent us video tapes of

the horror, the starvation, the ribs you could count from the comfort of your sofa.

Pasta dinner is sombre as images of bloated bellies on stick thin legs caress the insides of our skulls.

©Vivian Zems

Poets United- Mid-Week Motif- Televised

Ethiopia Famine ––1985_famine_in_Ethiopia