Iowa Writes

Sugarcane Field, Maui 2002

At the edge of cane fields we stop, then run between the rows
Sun behind us, sky before us, storm-violet
fields green and red earth. Black cows low,
plod across clay. Ghosts wander the sugar stalks,
whisper, grab handfuls of leaves, pull and shake them
startling cowbirds out of furrows. We pick up sea glass
hear the surf, calls of gulls. The sugarcane
stands dense, only stopping where lava cliffs
drop off, falling towards cinder cones and jagged rock
where tides push forward, haul back black sand streaked with
red fifty feet below.

In the cane fields we gather shells, upturned by plows and roots
Once the waves rose, gods hurling sea animals like stones
against mountainsides where they dried and died to feed the sugar.
We say: in sweetness, death.  Ghosts of field workers sing hoarsely
in Chinese, a slow faint song like the shed of feathers mid-flight.
A piece of willowware, chipped from a porcelain dish, white china stained
sunburnt, blue glaze translucent as veins. Once these ghosts in flesh
huddled in this thick brush with bowls of rice.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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Victoria Fedden lived in Iowa City for the month of July as a participant in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. This poem was written in Katie Ford's Advanced Poetry Workshop, "Subject Matters."  Victoria lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she is finishing her MFA in poetry at Florida Atlantic University.

This page was first displayed
on October 16, 2008

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