Long Mango in a yard
in New Grant.
Black bachac ant negotiates the sun
with a gorge outside the rotten
galvanized fence, freezing with our
stride past in long evening shadows.
We convene by Smokey,
breathing black sickles brandished
on the wind, creeping around us like an illness,
whose stilted board house waits for paint and hardens itself.
Where the wavering insecurity
of cane cutters, too, hardens.
The left-hander’s cutlass
mocks us from the corner.
Fork and shovel conspire.
For Caroni, for the burning cane.
The Indian one whispers something about Kali
and tries to swallow the scraps of Hindi left on his tongue.
Dreams we can barely afford.
There beneath the rafters and breaking
floor, we hold our crosses and laugh an elegy
to our hearts and take our absolution in a glass,
in anything that would hold it.
open like a new fire
seducing talkers’ guts, thinning out the blood
too thin for a mainland.
A dying tractor pulls through the talk.
A bounty of delinquent stalks passes us,
gazing like concubines who lament
this bastard crop, stripped and carted to Usine’s hill,
forgotten by the father who favored cane,
and drinks to dull his grief.
The able-bodied know.