YSJ Anthology 2015

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ON BELIZE

Charnell Peters

Houses walk on stilts here, the wood peeling and piled

in yellow, pink, and mint green slabs.

Stuck in the ground like flags, they know no rows.

Dogs roam gutted streets, sniff out spiny-tailed iguanas

from holes of cinder blocks, and pace their small hills.

Bare chested boys slide on banks and flip tricks in the flow

of a river that waters rope-like roots of sloping trees.

In the north, ancients speak through mossy mouths of jaguar gods

with Mayan names. Temples stretch to the top of the country,

but bus stops below read, ‘Repent Now’ and ‘Jesus Saves’.

People speak in smiles: Spanish, English, Kekchi, Belizean Creole.

Mennonites recite scripture in German and pass in clanking buggies.

In the south, the Garinagu speak Garifuna, eat sweet rice and

machuca,

the twiggy fish skeletons bobbing in broth by mounds of cassava.

They dance into the night— punta, small circles of their hips,

as men beat drums and turtle shells, voices jarring into harmony,

sailing toward the gray ravish of sea by lit cabanas on the beach.

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