Sugar Cane


There is something
about sugarcane

He isn’t what
he seem –

indifferent hard
and sheathed in blades

his waving arms
is a sign for help

his skin thick
only to protect
the juice inside

His colour
is the aura
of jaundice
when he ripe

he shiver
like ague
when it rain

he suffer
from bellywork
burning fever
and delirium

just before
the hurricane
smashing him to pieces.

Growing up
is an art

he don’t have
any control of

it is us
who groom and
weed him

who stick him
in the earth
in the first place

and when he
growing tall

with the help
of the sun
and rain

we feel the
need to strangle
the life

out of him
But either way he can’t survive.

Copyright: from I is a Long-Memoried Woman (Karnac House, 1983) © Grace Nichols 1983, used by permission of the author c/o Curtis Brown literary agency.

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Grace’s poems are full of the sounds and stories of Guyana, the Caribbean country where she was born and grew up, often drawing on its ...

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