2-3 zone defense

Some stories
aren’t the stuff of newsprint.
They are softly whispered to you
in foreign lands …

Tales of gardens
that harbour danger
in obscure corners,
even as playful manatees,
those that children stare at,
twirl securely captive
among the water lettuce,
and there are winding tracks
under tall leafy risings
of stately Purpleheart.

Is that why you chose
to run at dusk?
with the generous sashay of your hips,
your tights accentuating
your every sinuosity,
or was it the curve of your breast,
that made them feel entitled to reward.

As many as they were,
they ran a 2-3 zone defence.
You were fair game,
that’s all that it was.
They wanted to pick and roll.
The carrion crow already had
their flowery candles lit for you,
vivid beautiful yellow
amid the darkest green leaves.

You couldn’t do a fast break
like the manatees
in a now gloomy pond as
the water lettuce held their breath.
They dribbled and passed
five assists and goal…
You could see the darkening sky
like in a vintage slide viewer
move so through pain, tears, helplessness.

Was it not those stately grand legumes
and the bacteria in symbiosis
that commiserated with you then,
whispering through nitrogen
beneath the very ground you lay,
a language you couldn’t understand.
They tried to let you know
how sad they were,
for they could feel
the uneven throbbing
of your frightened heart
and stinging of your torn flesh.

Through all the flagrant fouls,
you were fair game on center court,
and the stately Peltogyne,
the blessed Purpleheart,
how it bled for you
as you walked in a measured way
to your car,
like a tree trunk sliced
to reveal a core
that grew darker and darker
with every breath you took
of laborious tropical air.

An old hag at the gate,
looked at you narrowly
“Wha’ haapen?”
as you whimpered.
“Dem boys …” she said,
resigned to the ways of the world
and sucked her teeth
as she admonished you
with a soft sternness,
that girls don’t run
in a park that late.


Plants and basketball:

Water lettuce or Pistia stratiotes, help provide shaded areas for fish and other organisms living in a pond. It also helps oxygenate and clarify the water.

Peltogyne or the Purpleheart tree belongs to the family Fabaceae, is leguminous. Some species are known to have root nodules that harbour symbiotic bacteria for nitrogen fixation. An emergent species in the rainforests of South America, it is easily noticeable with its tall and mushroom like canopy. It is well known for the unique colour of its wood; when freshly cut the wood is a dull grayish-purplish brown but with continued exposure to air, deepens to an eggplant purple.

Carrion Crow Bush, this shrub is best known for its bright inflorescences, which are shaped like candles. Senna alata or Cassia alata is also known as candle bush or emperor’s candlesticks. It is a plant with medicinal uses that grows wild in Guyana.

Manatees are fully aquatic herbivorous mammals, gentle giants also known as sea cows. The West Indian manatee or Trichechus manatus is an endangered species.

The 2–3 zone defense is a defensive strategy used in basketball, referred to as the 2–3 because of its formation on the court, which consists of two players at the front of the defense and three players behind.

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