American Cassava by Samuel Williams

Sep 13, 2021

Little black boy from the waters
Whose pastimes were throwing bricks,
Shooting marbles.
He caught fish in empty chewing gum containers
Set them free again in the rain.

Black boy from the earth.
He rushes to the sea walls.
Till water rises to the rim,
He must build a higher wall again.

He went barefoot to shops to buy sunshine chips
And when no one was at the register,
He’d call out “Inside! Inside!”
Then chewed on peanut brittles,
And laughed at the way the crumbs fell.

Little black boy and his hands in the sugar jar.
He’d pick cherries and plums from the garden,
And mash them to a paste in plastic cups.
That chef of a boy,
Making American Pancakes in a South American country.
Watching American TV on Guyanese furniture.

That black boy who grew cassava in his garden,
But took a plane to the blue.
To the red sunrise of the east that makes him rise early.
He watched Oprah on an American TV.
Felt his first winter.
He called “Inside, inside” for the rest of Guyana he had left.
Till that black boy who grew cassava in his garden,
Could only buy them from a bodega.

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