the rhythm of this harvest

with our earmuffs (sound barriers, not warmers) on
we (sometimes me and jacob, sometimes trish and i,
sometimes me and one of the two visitors by the names of
adam and alicia)
work our rhythm out- reaching for cane
(tanlged in its tallness) and feeding it to the clacking
grinding moving mill
while down below at the sugar shack
the fire in the boiler heats up and
stan and joseph work in the mists rising
from the steam pans
and we take turns sipping just-pressed (green) sorghum cane juice
and taking in the light, the flavor, the rhythm
of this harvest
sweat forming at my knees and
rolling calfward
on this late september
88-degree day
while i rotate between
gathering and feeding cane
to the mill

moving the paper labels over
damp sponges
to activate the adhesive
before placing them
on jar after jar
i sit and repeat the motion on the porch
with cynthia and mo each doing the same
i’ve experienced it for 23 years of my life

i say (while also acknowledging its power and magic)
about bleeding once a month and now
i’m done, i’m over it
joseph feeling my flexed bicep
as i carry a case of sorghum-filled pint jars
to a shelf in the sugar shack
this is the hottest sorghum cook day
i’ve ever experienced i tell cynthia
who is sweat covered
from feeding wood to the red-hot heat
of the boiler whose temperature
should remain between 90 and 100
the red scrapes that the sharp ends
of cut cane leave on our forearms
(their signature ‘i was here’ mark)
and how it becomes habit to keep feeling
the slightly raised skin around them

this is your growing edge bruin says
how the pre-sunset light these days
coppers everything it lands on

emory with his red rope and padlock
the next mario manzini saying
wrap it (the rope) around the chair
and my wrists and me if it reaches
and then lock it
and i’ll escape


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