The men do not leave the house
They might come in handy
for harvesting fruit, for slitting
stems that snake around their feet
and trip them. The women
don’t feel the need.
Still, I’m grateful
as we walk back to the village
on an afternoon cracked open,
a yolk of sun frying
on the road’s bare earth.
My lip splits, I’m out of water
and tiny fruits of heat rash
bloom across my skin. A man
machetes down oranges.
I fingernail mine open.
They hack theirs apart with cutlasses.
They’re still slashing whilst I’m
sucking down the juice, eating
even the dust it sticks to my fingers.
Fiona Cartwright is a conservation biologist, poet and mother of two young daughters who lives near London, but wanders elsewhere as much as possible. Her poetry has previously appeared in various publications, including Mslexia, Butcher’s Dog, Envoi. Under the Radar and Ink, Sweat & Tears.