from Vernon Anderson – Sudden Glory – 75-6
A few bleeders of the gum had straggled across the border seeking opportunity. With faces set they pressed into the wind, bearing pails of sticky sap. It bubbled gently on the hottest days, reminding the bleeders that it was alive, that it had an energy all its own to give or withhold.
The bleeders’ families were at home, of course; the children under care of elder siblings and resolute septuagenarians. The few who left, who collapsed over that imagined line are steady now, finding their footing as the peak of the day descends and cool pink floods the sky. The gum the bleeders carried would fetch a fine price and give them succour through the coming summer – the hottest, they knew, that they would ever experience.
But then, sirens. Thunderous woops from wailing birds, flashes of blue and purple and red. Penetrating cyclopean eyes of screaming white sway over the bleeders’ bodies. Somebody yells at them to stop, in their own native tongue, and all but one of them obeys. This last takes a single step.
An officer brings him to the ground with a blow to the back of the knee. He’s cuffed with zipties and left to breathe in the sand for a solid half-hour before he’s booked and deported. The sticky-sweet gum he’s worked to collect spills into the sand, coating his face. His tongue flicks out to taste it.
A few bleeders of the gum straggle back across the border.
edit: artwork by Leslie Taylor