Salt At Cuyutlan

You would see a silent lagoon,
an amethyst plate pushing the horizon,
& your eyes would water from the brine
as it precipitates in berm-bounded pools.

Rows of white sacks like monstrous larvae,
set in hive-like order, geometric,
& the workers crawling, hoisting, running,
the ground a mix of pepper and salt.

If you were there you’d see huts under thatch
where women wait with babies,
silently watching what you watch—
in the opaline heat, air saline sharp,

muscular little men in shorts & baseball caps,
backs stippled in crystals, running barefoot
up a narrow ramp into the semi-truck
with 100-kilo sacks in the clutch of neck & shoulder.

If one should slip off the ramp he would die,
the sack’s weight snapping his neck, yet see the
carriage of each, proud as he labors before his woman.
They all know their burdened running,

hefting bags heavier than themselves,
involves by its feint with risk a reason to be men.
Silence is an aspect of their focus.
Nothing grows near this soup of sodium

so like your blood & mine, its traces embedded
in tusks of woolly mammoths, trees, bones of cavemen,
in sources for ancient wars. Such crystal irony.
You could sweat for the men,

watching them glisten in their menial work
indifferent to the heat. They run because pesos
are for piece work, another rubric given the poor,
& they have no way to spend your respect.

Robert Eastwood began writing poetry and fiction in college. He’s appeared in many journals, online and in print. His poetry has won various prizes, including the Berkeley Poets’ Dinner Grand Prize. His chapbooks, The Welkin Gate, Over Plainsong, Night of the Moth are by Small Poetry Press.

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