he raises palms
while shooing winged things
while the neighbor beats his wife
while the roaches gather ‘neath the tarp on da roof
while a woman hollers he gon kill me!
while tucking fruit skins into the soil of the tree
while a child dances in the street, eyes fixed on sky
while the girls tug on their slips in the choir rafters
while the sons culture wine from open palms
while the banana spiders dodge the vinegar
while Stacey hangs on the air like a whisper
while the sun shines by the bay, and it rains off I-95, over 9th St.
while riffraff gathers at the head of the road, hood in hand
while somewhere, a child is missing, gator bait
while a mother prays with a circle of women
while palmetto bugs gather at his feet
while chicken souse simmers in the pot
while The Duke come on the radio talking he Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
while Willie sinks another boat full of rum, mangoes, bodies
he peels an orange, rips the hanging branch,
opens the skin like a wound
wedge by wedge the dirt beneath his nails is replaced by pulp
he undresses the child, cussing summer and praying to the light
raising each tree.