Water Carriers

I know women and girls who walked five miles
To gather water. After market, they stopped
At a well next our house to replenish jars;
Then balancing, walked smoothly westward.
I sat on the doorstep to see the sunset:
Their silhouettes wavered through the millet,
Sky and field rushed in gold and salmon,
Their silhouettes flickered like blue flames.

A neighbor used to watch. I thought he
Relished in the sun, as I did, and the smell
Of sunset, which is yeast and resin.
I respired air rank with amber liquor, but
He was inebriated with the female figures,
And when the women disappeared,
The colors swarming in the sky went out
As if their wicks had crumpled.

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