When I worked in an orphanage a boy
came to harvest sugar cane in what
he’d worn to work the street at a beach resort.
His bunkmates picked up volcanic rock
I later learned geologists call scoria—a word
whose root gives us slag, drek
and excrement. At the field’s edge,
they stoned him. I see his diminishing blue,
still, the turbulence of his dress as he ran.
Out of jealousy or boredom they
also killed each other’s adopted strays.
Then, I didn’t know what it was to wake
in a woman’s bed and enter the world
sure her touch must show on my skin.

 

Naomi Mulvihill
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