Sugar Cane

Sugar Cane


There is something
about sugarcane

He isn’t what
he seem –

indifferent hard
and sheathed in blades

his waving arms
is a sign for help

his skin thick
only to protect
the juice inside

His colour
is the aura
of jaundice
when he ripe

he shiver
like ague
when it rain

he suffer
from bellywork
burning fever
and delirium

just before
the hurricane
smashing him to pieces.

Growing up
is an art

he don’t have
any control of

it is us
who groom and
weed him

who stick him
in the earth
in the first place

and when he
growing tall

with the help
of the sun
and rain

we feel the
need to strangle
the life

out of him

But either way he can’t survive.

from I is a Long-Memoried Woman (Karnac House, 1983) © Grace Nichols 1983, used by permission of the author c/o Curtis Brown literary agency.

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1To My Coral Bones

2In My Sea-House

3Our Cassandra

4Old Cane-Cutter At Airport


6Footprints of My Arrival


8One Continent/ To Another



11Sugar Cane

12Like A Flame

13Night is Her Robe


15Old Magic

16In my Name

17This Kingdom


19Price We Pay for the Sun

20Praise Song for My Mother

21Like A Beacon

22Island Man


24Wherever I Hang

25The Assertion

26The Fat Black Woman’s Motto on Her Bedroom Door

27The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping

28Tropical Death


30Thoughts drifting through the fat black woman’s head while having a full bubble bath

31Small Questions Asked by the Fat Black Woman

32Sleeping Out


34Sun is Laughing

35Come on Into My Tropical Garden

36Wha Me Mudder Do

37Granny, Granny Please Comb My Hair

38For Forest

39Hurricane Hits England