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Dear Land of Guyana

By Nathan Smith

Some time ago, Queen Elizabeth
Came to Georgetown.
Like mushrooms, whitewashed statues
And busts materialized overnight at each
Stop. The locals laughed and shrugged
Their shoulders as if it were some
Strange fortuitous coincidence,
Then took their children to the seawall
And flew kites against the breeze,
Tumbling in from the open ocean.

Innumerable blue and purple Portuguese
Men-of-war perish seasonally on these
Clay shores, their dying sting is painful, and welts immediately.
Some mornings, the tide has scattered the beach
With so many of these ethereal ocean tea lights, it seems
The heavens have fallen from the sky
To throb on the wet clay.

Sitting on the equator, like a pot on the fire,
Guyana, you are cooked in your own juices.
Torrential rain like nails on the tin roofs
Inundates parks into ponds;
Children make nets of pantyhose and wire
To catch black tadpoles and fat minnows.
Everyone else rolls up their pants and mucks along.
White cows turn gray from the belly down, while
Motorcycles gouge ridges into side streets.

Fertile sister, dark land of sun and sugar,
Of tar nights and rotting fruit, your thick mud
Gathers between my toes.
Your feral trees brood from the south
Right up to the edge of the ocean,
And these city people, for all their hustle and bustle
remain jungle drunk.