The language of sugar isn’t difficult
to master. One learns it as easily as
any other tongue. You may not believe me,
but it is true. As a boy, lost in the cane fields,
I made a mistake (Who doesn’t make mistakes?)
and, for this small error, I was punished, the sweet
sugarcane becoming weapon, becoming punisher.
Each time the man brought the body
of the cane stalk down across my back,
I cried out. Would you believe me if I told you
that today I wouldn’t even whimper at such a thing?
Because now I know how to brandish a stalk,
how to bring it down as testament, how to make
the nothing of air sing before the strike. And because,
well, now I know how to accept punishment as well.
You punish or are punished. It really is that simple.
Dominus, Holy Father, I have hidden myself
in the cane field. I may have sinned. My back is bare
and in need of your administrations. Not salt
in the wound, Lord, but sugar. Sugar as sharp
as the metallic taste of blood in the mouth.
Make me regret this, Lord. Make me…
Strike me, Lord, strike me harder than any man.
Make of me something sweeter than sugar.
Copyright © 2021 C. Dale Young
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.