on will

my father     at twelve     stole from god
or at least that’s what Brother Boscoe said
to my granddad long before he was my granddad
but just before he beat my father with the will
of which only farmers are capable     the will that tills
acres without help from tractors or beasts
of burden     the will that makes sweet
peppers swell green to red come draught
come flood     the will that gets exercised upon and by
sons who come later     who taste the blood
and sweat in their fathers’ mouths from before
their fathers were fathers     but
no measure of will can protect a son
of the land from the truth told
by a man of the clothe    
     Brother Boscoe had god
who had my granddad fill my father’s mouth with blood
just as my father had earlier filled his own with the sword
tailed hillary he took from the brother     the one
he was promised for having scrubbed
clean dozens of fish tanks
and rawed his hands
without pay     though without
is what sons of the land are most
accustomed to     my father cushioned
the fish upon his tongue     gathered spit
between his cheeks pulled close against his teeth
and walked home     the equator’s sun    
a switch stinging his bare back     the only witness
to how the fish beat in his mouth like something sacred     how
upon delivery     it moved his heart
like water