Tropical Stonecutting

Black men swing down their picks on the white stones.
Within their picks they hold the sun entwined,
And, as if pressed and wrung from them, wept drops
Of patent leather spill out of their spines.

Men with light voices rinsing their dark skin
Rinse it with pearls of stubborn sweat and stand
Cracking the savage cashbox of the wilds,
Cracking the land, but never touching Man.

Leaping from stones, as soon as each pick picks,
A fragment of sheared sun is sparked and blown
Out but resurges with returning picks
Like God himself exploding in the stone.

Enormous yet not great, the morning can
Enter a single drop of sweat and sink.
Struck sparks leap upward from the stones’ own skulls
And are the only thoughts the stones can think.

Black men are singing as they swing their axes
As if their song could soften what they break.
But at these stones they delve, and delve forever,
Delving into the quarry of their ache.

Swinging against the innocent light stones,
These Haitians toil out in the noonday rum.
These blacks that bid the cracked stones bristle sparks
Are nights that chip away at chunks of sun.

Today in search of earthen ore, they hit
upon a greater gold: its lode is day,
the very day that took their human picks
and studded them with star-shards, as if they
stood on the summit, hacking God away.