In the Morning She Died For It

by Dominique Christina

Sugarcane is a metaphor
We summon from an
Undeep grave
We plant new bodies every morning
Watch ‘em grow up sweet and tall.

We get slick              or try to
Pull at the roots
Shuck the stalk
Let the juice run
Chew the rind-
Gotta be on your knees
For it cuz
We not supposed to know
Nectar no way

That’s how they got her.
Too proud to crouch-
That ain’t her religion
She say Shango and
We know she can’t bend-

She got too many
Stories in her blood
To go down easy
That’s how they catch her, see?

She standing straight as a curtain rod
Eating the cane with the
Sun on her face

Black as a coal
In a white dress.
She should be stooping
But that ain’t in her.
She a hurricane.
She wants sugar so
She takes it.

Free people keep afever
Know the heat,
Give it a name.

Unmuted black girl in a
Church-white dress
Big from the crime
Of taking sugar for herself

Sun-struck daughter

Every one of us keeps a  
Hell within reach
They make the want wide
Til we puddle from it-

We reconnaissance
Our bones
Get up the next day
Dig a hole and put a
Girl inside the
Color of coal
Ruined woman
From rising water and
Wind laid bare
Nectar will make for
Murderous indifference

When I get to it
I will eat my own fruit
Let it dazzle my blood…

My own dumb blood
That has never known
A rebellion
Til a girl in a white dress
Sneaked the sugar cane
Into her pink mouth,
Got caught and
Set herself on fire
To keep from the lash
Sweet smoke, that…
Dead from stolen sugar
And the promise of white men
Who ride the devil too much to
Know the holiness of a black girl
With syrup on her chin-

Now every time I smell
Something sweet I think: War

Poem copyright 2019 by Dominique Christina. All rights reserved.

See two more poems from Dominique Christina debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: Haitian Lullaby: For Cecilia Laurent”  and  “What the Old Folks Knew…

Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Essay | Writing Prompt

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