Mz. Chiquita, her rattle-bones are slick with oil pressed from coconut, her bananas are sharpened and firm. A steelpan choir booms. She counterfeits dance. The fruit in her basket hat are fake, hollow. White flesh and breasts and ass already melted in the sun. The banana queen stirs a flame. The fire licks at hope. She’s paid to distract the men from their toil. Her toil is their toil. She is a piece of company machinery like the steamship, a deathship always waiting for its cargo, salivating sea foam. The men are eager to return home, but the urgent, unripened piles wait to be sorted and dispatched. The bananas are an unyielding march of stretched tears down a human conveyer belt. Platters of the fruit weigh down workers’ head, others wrap around, constrict shoulders. The neck is for lifting. The body, for sacrifice. All men in line, all waiting to unload their loads, all wanting to return home. They know only fair-skinned Atlases can shrug.
Mz. Chiquita sounds a tin bugle no one hears because the men have started to sing. Her job is vital. She knows that the wealthy blancos need sweetness, to them all the sweeter knowing it comes at the expense of life. The line leads to the dock leads to the vessels. Slave ships and galleons have never left but these fruit will. They are going for a cruise. They are meant for a new world. This Old World is salt, not sweet. It murders the men’s wives, the men’s children. It is tradition.
But this time is different. This air is different because of the submachine guns and the ammo. Because Mz. Chiquita is slipping on peels. She is trying to beat a war drum but she’s mislaid rhythm. She is losing the beat. She is playing xylophone on her bones but the music has abandoned her. Her phalanges fall to the floor.
Dark becomes light. The sun is peeking now, pinkening, ready to roast. Daylight’s come and the workers are ready to return home. The ships are ready to sink. The workers ready to strike.