Fordlândia

The “Island of Innocence” only a short paddle away,

with its girls in dark rooms and the one place for a strong

drink, the nightclub with the pulsing music to push

hipbones against, the bruise formed the next morning

and the pleasure in pressing a thumb back down into it

as a reminder that not every town is prefabricated

and that the smell of rubber can fade when a face

is shoved into the L-shaped space of a young woman’s

neck. Sweet-sour residue of tobacco still stuck

on the corners of lips—a place to dip the tongue

when the sun gets too hot and the shade from

the rubber trees too sparse for so many shirtless

bodies. Force-fed hamburgers. Heat stroke. The itch

below the pants. The machete carried in the pocket

before revolt was decided on. Always, the premeditated

weapon—the body knows before the mind what it

wants. The hand knows before the eyes what it sees—

a reflex. Branches from a rubber tree can still

snap when pushed too far. Packed together so tight,

insects, the tree blight, all the bodies together working

beneath them, that heat, those trees and the disease

that seemed almost a human thing eating them away.

 

***

 

Corey Van Landingham is a Wallace C. Stegner Poetry Fellow at Stanford University, and the author of Antidote (Ohio State University Press). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, The Best American Poetry 2014, Best New Poets 2012, Kenyon Review, Narrative, The Southern Review, and elsewhere.

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