The Fieldstone Review

Accidental Agriculture

by Bertrand Bickersteth

The bruising beginning
face rubbed in
central Alberta’s finest
Orthic Dark Brown Chernozem
where wheat flourishes
and barley wails
After the fight
we congregate in the principal’s office:
punishments
meted out to him
the aggressor
who impugned my face against the ground
because its darkness inspired
a simile
part-time prairie poet that he was
And punishments
meted out to me
the victim so called
Well, why did you fight back?
Why do you people
always fight?
Now I have to punish you
too
The principal glared at me
his eyes a shock
of literal blue
Outside
on my way home
I pondered the view
from the top of a rare hill
a field spilled 
with dandelions splayed out below 
This accidental agriculture
will be swallowed 
by an instantaneous city with
its blindness
its inevitability
I saw the whole against the horizon
A nine-year-old
a timeless landscape
a flatness ensuing
My tender head still throbbing 
from the blunt encounter
I reached with a quiet fist
to rub at the soreness swelling
around my eyes
Well
why did you fight back?
When the black child is six years old
in Harlem
he suddenly sees everything he has been before
and all that is to come laid out before him and 
how 
it has been laid out before him and this
muses James Baldwin
is the fundamental difference between
any child growing anywhere
in Alberta
and every child that must see things
through black eyes