Olive Senior, born in 1941, is a Jamaican poet and short story writer. Today’s poem is from Gardening in the Tropics, an amazing collection of poetry. Enjoy.
Gardening in the Tropics, you never know
what you’ll turn up. Quite often, bones.
In some places they say when volcanoes
erupt, they spew out dense and monumental
as stones the skulls of desaparecidos
— the disappeared ones. Mine is only
a kitchen garden so I unearth just
occasional skeletons. The latest
was of a young man from the country who
lost his way and crossed the invisible
boundary into rival political territory.
I buried him again so he can carry on
growing. Our cemeteries are thriving too.
The latest addition was the drug baron
wiped out in territorial competition
who had this stunning funeral
complete with twenty-one-gun salute
and attended by everyone, especially
the young girls famed for the vivacity
of their dress, their short skirts and
even briefer lives.