They know this river, know it well.
Daily, they bring their fruit to sell.
We, who find the river strange
reach out our bills as we lack change,
for what they’ve brought to us from shore.
They hand out more and more and more
to strangers whom they must find dense
to give them such great recompense
for what God has amply provided.
All their village has derided
those who float by in big boats,
holding out their ten sol notes
that would buy every bunch they carry.
They wonder why we do not tarry
for our change after we pay.
Silent, they watch us float away.
The baby held in mother’s arms
does not know what nearby harms
lurk beneath the water’s cloak—
the jaws that snap, the water’s soak.
But we know what small guarantee
exists in lives of poverty.
Rubbed raw, perhaps, by all we have,
our generosity is salve.