Sacral was the acre I stood upon
that Saturday afternoon in April
trying to make sense of the mortgage,
watching a black-crowned cock pass like an omen
while my neighbour played her Steinway in her room.
That year, inside the belly of the earth
was fermenting, all the small animals
of the earth were buried; as I turned over
the earth, I discovered the festered bones
under the yet unexploded sun; the earth,
perhaps she was undergoing her own kind
of catharsis, was plated with a thin crust
that crumbled at the tongue of my spade.
I had almost lost my faith in the ground.
I sowed the first maize seeds by midday,
each an inch deep from the surface; in two days,
on Monday, the first seedlings started sprouting.
They could all stand the heat, the evening water.
That year, the rains were late in their coming,
the villagers buried three young women
who were suspected to be witches:
each because they were living alone
and said to be the sole perpetrators
of the misfortunes in their families.
Each day, in my bedroom I listened
for the early arrival of blackbirds
because even a scarecrow wouldn’t do.
The frogs came in their tide in late July
but on its own, the heat wave took each one of them.
Most nights I woke with backaches and headaches
like the Steinway was still playing in my head.
In September the farm looked like an orchard,
things I had not grown springing out of the earth.
Weeds and crops, I gathered them alike—
who’d know what would emerge from the unintended?
After the harvest, we set the field alight,
huge rabbits making it to the forest,
looking like miniature panthers in their flight.