It smells smokey here again, as it did back in August, as if the sugar were burning in the cane itself. It hangs thick in the air, wafts through my apartment, so that I taste it with each bite of food, so that it mixes with the water in my shower. In August, when the fields were burning everywhere, the air was so heavy with sugar ash that it collected on my porch and on the flat things within my apartment–the tops of picture frames, the covers of match books, the water faucets, everything– all held a coating of dust to their exposed surfaces. I used to walk through my rooms furiously wiping the grey particles off with a damp rag, my eyes dry, hardly able to blink themselves for the air seemed to pull the moisture from them. And now it’s hot like that again, this time though from the sun. It burns the fields and my skin and the inside of my nose crisp and I smell that smoke again. And this time I accept the ash on my surfaces wipe them down when I have a moment and know there’s nothing I can do to prevent the layer from collecting on its own.
And the bugs. The bugs no longer irritate me. At night, when all my windows and doors are open and the single bulb above me in the living room is lit, I no longer jump up to swat away the tiny bugs that invariably collect around its glow, swirling round the buzzing light until they fall to their deaths. I no longer close my windows and suffer in heat to prevent the bugs from flying in and interfering with my single bulb. Now my windows open wide like a frog’s cool mouth, or a child’s waiting for a snowflake, and I stay focused on what I’m doing, looking up only occasionally to see how big the bugs are.
Today I found their see-through bodies fallen like baby soldiers on the coffee table beneath the light. Twenty little Icaruses with their tiny green wings all too close to their nighttime, inside sun. I swept them from the table and cast them off to float in the breeze off my porch. Before, I cringed at having to clean them, thinking I lived in a place gross with bugs. And now, I simply toss them to the breeze, that sweet ashy breeze, that smells like sugar in the sun.