Genip Tree

—after Sylvia Plath

I know what gravity neglects: With tender hooks
I stretch away from the weight of living.
My pinnate leaves lick humidity. They cleave air.
Do you prefer the absence of what is beneath—
roots worming for sugars in the buried cane cart's
guilty wheel? Do you like the taste of bloodstone?
Love is an orbicular light,
un trompe l'oeil. I look down at my shadow
and see poultices of sun warming dying weeds.
Each day my branches knot into a woman's apron
bundling small commodities protesting fire.
There is molasses in my veins, white rum in my dark thigh.
All night, the coot's wing repeats the machete's
weighty laconism—"Lord, when I kept silence, my bones
waxed old through my roaring all day long."
What is it you hear in me? Is it the quick riffling
through psalms—a restlessness lacking contemplation,
or is it the mindless anthologizing of wind?
I can, for eternity, stand on this golgotha
mound in my cassock of darkness
speaking in canonical tongue.
Or shall I bring the sound of sugar's falling?
This fruit—sweet flesh inside a bitter shell,
cracked open so girls can learn the art of kissing.
I have suffered the atrocities of salt.
The perennial sting,
a miscellaneous breeze from a voluminous sea.
I, too, inure the abeyance of wind,
the devastating calm of clouds passing over
me like a shark's shadow over a drowned man.
Under the steaming donkey dung,
the manacled dead lay stoic as stone.
The Arawak skull has long forgotten the malarial eye.
The sun shows no sympathy: She would burn me,
brutally. Or, like the dead,
she is only retuning to the trees.
I regard her, I regard her.
Full and molten over the cane stalks considering
the flagrant sins of sugar, remembering
Gomorrah's fate of brimstone and salt.
Oh shadow, turn into an echo and carry
these tired voices home.
After This or These
Jennifer Hearn

After This or These

Jennifer Hearn

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