Farewell to the Cannibals


In many ways youíre the kindest people Iíve known.
You wove me grass pantaloons
to cover my Protestant modesty,
tiled the roof of my hut with the skull-plates
of enemy chiefs and failed chefs,
offered me tidbits of your grandfatherís liver
in a sauce of muscadines and dandelions.

Your food, I admit, is delicious:
man chowder, man pie,
grilled mansteaks garnished with plantains,
man boiled in spicy blood;
crack the bones and suck out the marrow
that tastes of fat and warm pennies in the mouth.

Iíll miss your old men, brown and gnarled as roots:
holders of secret recipes
and jokes about the succulent
banquet between a womanís legs.
Iíll miss your women, too, bodies lean as knives:
when they dance naked in the boiling light,
my heart thrashes like a plump dove caught in a trap,
and my mouth swims full of shark teeth.

Itís been six raw years since I washed ashore.
The smell of barbecued flesh is tattooed
into my dreams, and I fear I am becoming
nothing but appetite. The rest of me,
the part that swoons at Italian art
and chuckles over French philosophy,
is being nibbled away.
And so in the porridge-sky morning,
before you crack bones for breakfast,
I will wade out into the chill sea,
struggle over eel-back waves,
and swim for home.