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His canoe arrives at the camp
monthly from Rambutyo
volcano island to the south-east
more often than not haloed
in cloud when seen from Los Negros.

He brings fruit and vegetables on contract:
banana, papaya, pineapple,
black-skinned avocadoes,
taro, cassava and kaukau,
and resting in the thwart
a walking stick he has carved
that is for sale for three pounds:
honey-coloured softwood
with a python entwining the haft
and below the grip two warrior heads
sharing the same pair of ears,
and under the heads - twin crocodiles
highlighted by mother-of-pearl insets
secured by obsidian-black wax.

In September I offer two pounds
and am rejected by the carver of the stick
who has a family to support, children to feed.
I bid the same money again in October.
The owner remains strong.

In November, on a clear day
when the lakatoi arrives on a mirror sea
and the cloud has disappeared
from the face of Rambutyo
I pay three pounds.

High Mountainous Country, 2005

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