Sunday, December 31, 2017

Plantation by Charif Shanahan


Plantation

When he finally brought the hammer down
One half-inch from my mother’s face

The hole in the wall
Wide as a silver dollar

I was close enough
Huddled there

In the folds of her lap
Her arms wet with sweat and crossed

Against my back
And since from the room

All sound had gone
I was clear enough to see

Inside the cracked plaster:
A river delta, fractured,

Branching off and becoming
The sea. . . Or, a tiny moon

On a shore of white sand,
The tide lapping it in foam and tugging—No,

Twelve dead presidents perched there
Each with the face of my father—

Tight-lipped, vacant-eyed—
Scanning the field for a body to mark

Then locking in on her knee-bent dread—
Ordinary, mammary—

A yellow suckling heavy on her tit. . . No,
I think it was her one good eye

Refusing to blink,
Scaling the bare-white wall

At the core of the mind
(not measuring its height)

Then circling a waterless well
In a desert without sand,

Unnumbered sisters before her
Caught in the belly of the boats—

Where there was too much sound to hear,
Though only one voice, one cry—

Their dark arms like trellised vines
Crossed and reaching.

 

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