that first season, you pick the mangos
and papayas fallen plump and ripe
to the dirt road, sticky-sweet
nectar running down your arms.
your school uniform will never be
clean again, but the neighbors’
prettiest cow runs to the fence
to pluck the fruits out of your
hands. the young bull comes, too,
skittish at first and then
ravenous. you stop feeding him
when he gores the dogs.
he forgets you by the day
you come home to a
black sky, choking and
heavy with a heat that
sticks to your skin.
a living thing.
across the road, the abuelos’ yard
dances with flames six feet tall:
the sugarcane is burning.
the ash covers the foothills,
drifts down from the mountain
villagers for a fortnight.
there is no sleeping with
cane-smoke in the air.
when you trade the islands
for a city in the states,
you don’t sleep and there is a language
you no longer speak, but even here
the sugarcane still burns
every summer. the smoke still
coats your lungs like molasses.
the heat still settles in your heart.