The Sweetness of Pineapples

by Octavia McBride-Ahebee

my son has the height of two machete blades
standing on the head of the other
this journey of hurried evil
of simple colonial play
will castrate his rise
he will not climb with boyhood insistence
even to the stature
of a stalk of standing corn

our son kicks the small head of a child
now but a roving skull
freed from breathing skill
a football  pushed through the hanging air
by the shoeless toes of its peers
children carrying cholera and machete wounds
as they strike to make a goal

Hyacinth, a man fat with kindness and flesh,
whose ears I used to taste with laughter
after listening to the voices of his body
wrestle with mine and the heat
and the dry hum of deaf bees,
is not in this camp of ghosts and demons and wingless locusts
to catch this soaring, tender head of bone
and give it peace
beneath our prostrated failure

We are two now
me and my body
I am not bewitched
by the trailing maggots
the feces of my body’s fear
restlessly haunting my womb
while still in search of new haunts
to celebrate this exodus
I crave only for the sight of a pineapple ring
buried in shards of carrots
and dry raisins from Belgium or France
the chance, again, to pull chest hairs
from Hyacinth’s breasts as bloated as my own

I am moved by the willfulness of my body
to vainly persist
though pilfered by the passions of ethnic fear
I, the child, who thought the fur of mangoes was her own skin,
am now a mother
who is ungenerous with her deserting thoughts
dreaming only of the sweetness of pineapples
colored with carrots

It is his habit, now, my boy, to battle
with familiar, belligerent ease
wielding fingers with no roofs,
facing maggots, legless and marching,
a boy and a band of worms
vying for milk, soured and littered,
left behind by a little girl
who is perhaps sucking the sky

I tell the boy through the chatter of death  rattles
against the blaring hush of living
to unbound his kidneys
map a ring of urine
lined with the salt of dead rain
made in the shape of a crucifix
to gird my body
to shield it
against the cravings of animals and non-believers
so I can go in peace.

The Sweetness of Pineapples by Octavia McBride-Ahebee

© Copyright 2004. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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