A Sharecropper’s Pantoum
for a dry season
The drug cocktails that have slashed the mortality rate
HIV-positive people in the U.S. and Western Europe, are
all but non-existent in Haiti. [O]nly 3 percent to 4
of people with AIDS [there] have access to the newest
—Alfredo S. Lanier, The Chicago Tribune
Hauling this pine box on a black Chevrolet,
pray to a candle at the end of its wick.
White burial clothes in a garbage bag,
ride for a place to die.
pray to a candle at the end of its wick
the mud road home from Port-au-Prince
and ride toward a place to die
where mangoes hang and sugarcane turns.
the dust road home from Port-au-Prince,
am a black skeleton—6 feet tall, yet 90 pounds—
where mangoes hang and sugarcane burns.
turned the earth before I got this thing.
lesioned skeleton—a rainbow tall, now 70 pounds—
dream across the waters and of the miracles there
and turn to earth in the jaws of this thing:
eyes—black holes, lungs—green clouds.
Dreaming across the waters and of the miracles there,
white burial clothes in a garbage bag,
eyes—black holes, lungs—green clouds,
haul this pine box in a black Chevrolet.
M. Ayodele Heath was recipient of the 2001 Emerging
Artist grant from the Atlanta Bureau for Cultural Affairs. His
poetry and fiction have appeared in Crab Orchard Review,
Chattahoochee Review, New Millennium Writings, and other
journals. He lives and writes in Atlanta.