From the Archives: “After the Plantation Fire,” a Rumpus Original Poem by Traci Brimhall


This was originally published at The Rumpus on March 14, 2012.


After the Plantation Fire

We buried the bodies and danced—we had to.
Beneath the sagging porch, generators roared,

mosquitoes sated themselves on wild dogs, boats
approaching us from the river loaded with soldiers

killed their engines. We told them the fire had nothing
to do with the revolution. I’ve made the choice

between brushing flies from a child’s eyes or digging
a grave deeper. It’s easier than you’d think.

So what if I knew who he was and what he’d done
when he sidled close—hat tilted back, caipirinha

in his hand—and matched his hips with mine?
I toyed with his buttons, felt his scars through his shirt.

He kissed the blood blisters on my fingertips and never
asked how I’d gotten them. That’s not why he’d come.

When soldiers broke the lights and the musicians’ arms,
I brought him to the burnt plantation, hid his face

beneath my skirt and leaned against a rubber tree—still alive
and leaking sap. Somewhere in the new dark, a man

in a uniform cut off another man’s tongue and ordered him
to sing. The wind pushed the flames closer to heaven.

Traci Brimhall

Read the Rumpus review of Traci Brimhall’s Our Lady of The Ruins.

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →