Middle Quarters

By | 31 October 2021

Worn women line the roadside waving cello bags of spicy shrimp
— burning with scotch bonnet — they’ve dug from the muddy
swamps hugging Wray and Nephew’s sugar cane. The asphalt,
eaten by rainy season storms, is scarred like skin sick with pox.
Cockpit Country’s porous limestone caves. Wait-a-bit. The chalk
bones of perch sit sun bleached, chewed clean, and neatly stacked
beneath burning Dutchy pots bubbling: fish head, chicken back
and cray tail. Middle Quarters is wet with sunlight, it’s slowly
dripping in from liana and limb. See the Manchineel Tree?
— la manzanilla de la muerte — down by the brackish water.
See the bend in the river? that is where the two girls died
for nothing. See the road to Accompong? that is where the Maroons
signed their treaty under The Kindah Tree. The waxy leaves of
Sweet Almond trees paint the canopy an artificial Autumn. It’s a
vacuum, fighting for air with: Blue Mahoe/Poor Man’s Orchid/
Poinciana/Breadnut/Sweetwood/Silk Cotton/Bull Thatch Palm/
The Holland Bamboo/Honda exhaust/John Crow vultures/distillery
vapor/spliff smoke. Inhale/Exhale/All hail/Haile Selassie: The
Most High. Above, burning cane bleeds into the blue and swells
molasses storm clouds. Tight florets unfurl, readying themselves
to pour dunder. Swallowtails swill every.last.drop.of.rum.rain.
Obeah men read the earth’s movements in the sky, selling
atmosphere as: store bought luck. Evil-be-gone. Bring-money-fast.
Luck-in-a-hurry. Do-as-I-say. The cane’s soft crackle drowns
the higglers begging for that hundred dollars in your pocket.


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