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Cuba, 1962

Ai Ogawa

Cuba, 1962

When the rooster jumps up on the windowsill

and spreads his red-gold wings,

I wake, thinking it is the sun

and call Juanita, hearing her answer,

but only in my mind.

I know she is already outside,

breaking the cane off at ground level,

using only her big hands.

I get the machete and walk among the cane,

until I see her, lying face-down in the dirt.

Juanita, dead in the morning like this.

I raise the machete—

what I take from the earth, I give back—

and cut off her feet.

I lift the body and carry it to the wagon,

where I load the cane to sell in the village.

Whoever tastes my woman in his candy, his cake,

tastes something sweeter than this sugar cane;

it is grief.

If you eat too much of it, you want more,

you can never get enough.