Bouquets of salt,
of sun.

You run in the soft heat of late spring
and feed on the wind’s panting.

Then slanting a little to boast of your grace, you glint
and glitter with the fervour of new planets asking to be named.

Why shouldn’t we name you, field of stars?
Field of precious ingots, longing to be home

to be separated, wheat from chaff,
and to become one, in a heap

as before, in buckets of water,
sodden with a vinegary smell of newborns.

Sunken in the paddy, women fold like crows, plucking,
plucking at your strings with their sickles.

Rifling through your roots
while leeches ooze from flesh.

The parasites writhe full-bellied, slaking their thirst
till a farmhand with folk cunning

unleashes a flow, hosing them off
in a stream of irreverence.

So my countrymen will bear their portion
till sundown

when to the well they will go to scrub their feet,
tamp with mud and blood and dung.