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The Yield

by
July 2021, no. 433

The Yield

by
July 2021, no. 433

after Sonia Feldman

When I read there were 170 women
seized from brothels in the Gardenia
district, loaded into police wagons
and crammed into the hull of a ship,
I wonder if they held hands. Or prayed.
If they cried when their lurching cage
docked, and when next morning
they were forced to till the dizzying
fields. I wonder how they felt
when told it was a waste
for pleasure to bear no fruit,
how they must instead keep
the earth fertile with their hands.
I wonder about the small protests:
if they slashed open the mouths
of green coconuts to drink in
the juice in croaking afternoons,
if, while wrenching cassava from
the dirt, they spat jokes about the men
who must be asking for them, if they
sang ballads under their breath
while they worked, if they made
love to each other and did not wait
for the yield.