Saved by Sugarcane

Written by: Earle Brown

Rain is brewing; 
black clouds hang over the Cockpit Country.
Them rainclouds have a habit of shifting colors like a lizard.
The smell of the pending shower is strong on September’s breath; 
the sun take a well-deserved break.

Mango season is long gone, 
and bellies are tied up in knots.
Naseberries; they accompanied the mangoes.

Them guys from abroad, 
who bought the government land across from the football field, 
slaughtered them faithful guava trees. 
They build condos,
but poor people can’t eat condos. 
How inconsiderate them big-shot government boys are.

We (me, Footloose, and Squealie) device a plan, 
when our bellies start telling us something must be done, 
but we have to wait ‘til darkness falls, 
‘cause bushes have eyes in sunlight.

While everyone sleeps in the bosom of the night,
we put on our birthday suits, 
and scale the barbed wire fence at the back of the house. 
We are now one with the blinding shadows.

We race carelessly across the open pasture; 
burrs biting at our tender flesh, 
and mosquitoes humming maddening music in our ears.

We tip toe on the dry leaves, 
using our hands as shields
to fend off the razor-sharp edges of the cane leaves.
We drop down on all four, bellies on the ground; 
we navigate the rows like them American marines – naked and all.

We ate our full, 
and Squealie wet the bed that night.
Them sugarcane have a way of making us hyper.
Footloose fell from a Poinciana tree and fractured his hand, 
but we stayed energized that fall.