Nightfall, Jane Ash Corner, St. Thomas

Ice splits those millennia of canes.
They stand by the coppice
in ready patience and danger
when I pass by the barracks. A mongrel
pack, in their heat, vanishes
into a lane. Cane and silence.
Ash-frosts glimmer houses
sleeping by the factory.
I pause to breathe deep the molasses vat.
Progress is back, but centuries
are one here. Flogging
laughter in the schoolyard;
a book tortures ants, then gets
thrown into the latrine.
I hide blue bibles in tree roots,
until evenings, to take them home.
One lumps in my back pocket now; the embossed Gideon
and amphora I have not broken.
I am eyes in the old slave quarters.
The future will arrive in four years and burn
the river grouse green and kill
the library cormorant, whom
I had fallen for.
It will close the bible age.
Morning exhales pitch dark
on Peacock Hill. The rigid lines of tractors
hitched with hostel-size carts
come clear and the first cane cutters walking towards them
in burlap ponchos, most smaller
than me, or so it seems, leap over the errant-fish cistern.

From The Well Review . Reproduced with kind permission of The Well Review