sugar cane shadows


I am walking down green

sugar cane tunnels

like alleys I’ve never known

sitting in a corn field staring up through

glassy eyes at the starry sky

like I’ve never seen it before

while water rolls miles in from the shore, covers fields

where cows grazed the sweet grass

fills marshes and spills platforms

off oil field foundations til the water slicks like glass.

I’m passing by this green

corridor of canes reaching high

over my head, swallowing me whole

inside a memory–you tried

to run away from me

away from the shadows curdling the corners of your mind

but in this corn maze you would’ve gotten

hopelessly lost

in my memory your eyes squint green, seen through

tree branches broken and tossed

like pick-up sticks we played.

I am paddling across

glass-still water with the taste of clay so thick on my teeth

it’s hard to breathe; Spanish moss on cypress trees

clouds memories gray with wisps

of lost stories.

I didn’t want to lose you to

the sweet smoke of bonfires

burning away last year’s gleaned stubble.

Rubble of houses and fences hid you, swallowed up

the places that used to be green

long ago.  You held a handful of clay

spun it into something smooth

sitting on your porch in a tank top one hot day; then summer

turned cooler, what passes for winter

and I remember a different alley shadowed

by buildings, hearing the faint ring

of music somewhere.  There was always

music here

but now it’s gotten lost, stuck in a maze of sugar canes

and broken glass

and houses spilled from foundations.

I walk still, but there are

no trees’ shadows below to track my path

no stars above to use for landmarks, just

water where fields of grass used to be

and the memory of you

slipping away from me.

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