If you mix ash into the earth it will nourish tall grasses. Too much nitrogen stunts root growth and increases soil salts. Leaves yellow and wilt—too much ash erases the field where the jahanjis planted songs in finger holes. We still cremate the dead by the banks of the Corentyne River. The ground is drunk on our indenture; our toil-salt does not damn its wild thirst. Steel on cane steel on cane steel on cane steel on and on. Those who stayed past their contracts and were given land grants to remake their villages. Wiping foreheads of grit. Girmitiya: the haunting of a return never come. The same song never sung twice. Our maps home are songs and the road is water.
So me Aji been pregnant when 'e come. Den me fadda been bahn in de boat, in de ship. 'E mai-baap na been a-know she gan til a-New Amsterdam.
Rajiv Mohabir, a VONA and Kundiman fellow, is the author of the chapbooks na bad-eye me (Pudding House Press, 2010) and na mash me bone (Finishing Line Press, 2011). His poetry is published or forthcoming from journals such as Prairie Schooner, Drunken Boat, Great River Review, PANK, Assacarus, and Lantern Review. Nominated for a Pushcart in 2010, he received his MFA in Poetry and Translation from at Queens College, CUNY where he was Editor in Chief of Ozone Park Journal (2012–2013). He is currently pursuing a PhD in English at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.