The Crab Road
Leaving Trinidad we drove west
to find the tobacco fields,
fringed a green Caribbean
filled with weed swells.
That week we’d spent punch drunk
on rum sun, Havana Club No.7,
a bottle a day bursting our eyes to starlight,
could not prepare us for that drive.
We were making good time-
before the oil stopped,
soviets fallen, sugar and cigars
decaying in the fields-
careering with cicadas in lime groves,
plantain and banana bulging green.
We sensed the scents for miles
before we came upon
a seafood salad boiling
in massive waves of air,
a mirage of pink tar, hovering.
There was carnage there
but still they came,
small robotic armies
spawning from the woods,
impulse driven to the sea.
We braked hard but the locals
knew better, better to accelerate,
wind up the windows and sauna than hear
their crunching screams under hot tyres.
Instants before annihilation they’d rise,
pulling up to full height,
as big as two hands, claws akimbo,
snapping in mimed shows of hubris.
We crawled for miles
weaving through their flesh.
For days the stench stayed with us,
that hour on the crab road.
How do you write about
a tiny boy who's died
coughing mould up from his lungs,
his fragile body robbed
of all its preciousness,
despite his parents' pleas,
their belabouring of those
who could have saved his life
but inexplicably chose
not to? Whilst they luxuriate
in their 100k's and liberal debate
his ashes moulder further still.
There are lessons to be learned
but, given the history of these things,
I doubt they ever will.
They arrive again in this early Spring,
homing in upon the chimney pots,
lilac wing-sheen shining as they turn,
land quite drunkenly, settle on the rims.
They soon begin their foraging;
indisciplined construction showers twigs
upon the drive and block-paved path below,
as off they fly for more from trees nearby
to scratch and scrape and saw. We hear them
on the roof, inside the flue, the urgent
impulse braided in their hearts to nest,
to build these fragile havens for their young,
a threnody as ancient as the stonework
of the house they claim, this Spring, as home.