Old Edson watches purple light begin to swell behind the hills
and thinks of his dead son.

Once, before the rains had come
he called his dead son from the drying ground
into the seeds within his calabash
to ask for news about his nine lost cows.
The spirit did not talk. Perhaps it laughed.

He shook the spirit once again
when wind blew dust in red scarves on his field.
All that touched his lips was borrowed grain
and fruit his children picked from neighbours’ trees.
Again, there was no answer in the shaken seed.

The third time it refused, he burned the ghost.
He chained and lit it in a pile of rubber tyres
and smelt the death of flesh in stinking smoke.
The brown wood cracked and blackened all that night
until the dawn bled mercy down the sky.

Edson’s lips moves as he stares into the sky.
– It was not I who put you in the ground.
It was not I who cut your head and left you there to drown.

Faint voices start to drift down from the village.
Cows loll heavy horns
and roll alien sounds with thick black tongues.
Leaves rear through the mist
soaked in dew.
Small red birds scatter in the foliage.

Old Edson sees the sunlight paint the hills in greens across the mist
and thinks of his dead son.