Postcard From Bonaire

Matthew 5


Here lies a coast
with postcard slaves
harvesting postcard
salt in wheelbarrows,
piles of it like mashed
potatoes please
pass the salt.

Rows of slave huts
painted orange to match
the obelisk that
told merchant
ships far off what grade
of salt was here.
You rare and precious

you centerpiece
unseen in the broth,
in the body oh
the ways of you
in the clearing
where the deer come

to lick. Here
are afternoons
too hot for anything
but on my knees
inside a hut so small and plain
it could be for a dog;
here lies a coast of tears.

Bonaire is in the Netherlands Caribbean. First published in the Christmas issue 2014 of The Cresset at Valparaiso University. Used by permission.

About the Author

Barbara Nickel

Barbara Nickel of Yarrow, B.C., writes books of poetry and fiction for young people and adults,for which she has won many awards, including being shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. An accomplished violinist, her work is sometimes a response to composers such as Mozart, Bach and Haydn. The CMW journal previously published a contribution by her in the For Young Readers issue in May 2010. Forthcoming in 2015 is a children’s picture book, A Boy Asked the Wind. Barbara graduated from Goshen College and earned an M.F.A. at the University of British Columbia. She has taught creative writing at the University of British Columbia and Canadian Mennonite University. Her poem was inspired by reflections on her family’s visit to Bonaire in 2012. http://www.barbaranickel.ca/about-barbara-nickel/