Kwame Dawes | Poetry

Growing up in the home of the butcher,
the child learns soon the equations of death;
that a dead body has its uses; that skinned
with care, the goat’s pelt, if rescued from
the stain of blood by a skilled butcher,
will dry with elegance and strength,
and so the drummers from the shrine
at the other side of the mountain
will arrive, eyes red with revelations,
with burlap sacks of aromatic weeds
that smell as green as the goat
smells red. The butcher woman, with
her sinewy forearms and a welcoming
grin, will point the men to the clothes line
that stretches from mango tree to ackee
tree. The conclave of drummers confers
in whispers, running their open palms
over the patterned hairs before they
choose. They can smell the cleansing
scotch bonnet in the large pot of chopped
up goat meat and bones and curry
with an infusion of raw coconut
oil. They do not remove their turbans
of pristine white as they fill plates,
squat and spoon fresh rice and goat
into their mouths. They say
Selah, and then slowly climb the hill.
This is where the child learns the commerce
of killing; the pragmatic economies of trade.