Roots

Then, the future was glaucomic, the bore through mangrove in the dugout slow. I recall the water in its color tannic. I see now an olive wake dissolving from the churn work of the screw. A time would come — it seems it has — to redecipher, understand again the meaning of the motor’s open vowels louding up a sacred space. Corporal Pitt, the bully, said something far beyond himself, “You see all what favor frame for madman basket? those are aerial roots.” He pointed and we took his reedy finger as command, us six good recruits — cadet acolytes joined for camping life — and paused eye-sweep for crocodiles. I plait time to those wetlands often. To be black where I live now is to bivouac. White is wilderness in all seasons. I carry bankras of one-one sorrows; gods in a haversack of joy. Out on long lug-sucking walks through marshes south of Boston, close-west fairly of the Cape, I wink “like” to the look of bulrushes, how they call to bible Moses, kinda favor sugarcane. Who resists the cat-tails saucery? — such flirts — but the names. Little Massachuck. Sachuest. Sapowet. Say them soft; no, shout these native names, names of the plowed near, and housed to, the made margin, the selvedged by road, the done to as America tends to do with indigenes, its what-it-failed-to-kills. At water’s edge a man in waders arcs a lure; snaps it out for bass. Tammed women with clam baskets hunch against a pushy breeze in group leverage. Seashells smaller than the ears of newborns crunch in the wake of boots. My dry-meniscus knees go skurch on pebble shoals. Sinuous chapel festooned-gaudy, by ibis candle-lit, I sight you. But how I coulda note full conscious your low-key frieze of halophytes, the mangroves’

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