Children Playing Mother and Father
She steals pieces of dough and a few red coals
from her mother’s kitchen.
Under their mango tree, she selects
three small stones and roasts the dough,
a little at a time, and offers it to him.
He hops it from hand to hand, pops it
into his mouth, and compliments her.
Now that he’s fed, they go fishing.
She hangs her little red and yellow bucket
(her Christmas present) on her arm
and follows him along the narrow ravine
that runs under Mrs. Jordan’s mango tree.
“Father! Father! Here is a big one. Come quick!”
He rushes over and spears it with his bamboo stick.
Ready, she holds the bucket up.
He slides the leaf in.
AFTER THE HOMEMADE FUNERAL
I will not weep on your bosom, Father
your arms will not hold me.
We prepare your bath,
scalding the broken branches of ceremonial herbs,
waiting until it would not burn you.
Your sons awkwardly bathe and wrap you
in the shroud I bought yesterday.
The cold radiating from your head stuns my fingers.
In those forty yards of cotton,
I fumble for your hand.
Something half-shy, asymmetrical between us
pulls my hand away.
Downstairs, many are waiting their turn
to hold mother and cry out.
My sister, your pet,
walks over to you this last time
and falls limp into nearby random arms.
The Imam’s prayers are begrudging,
unable to forgive mother
her new-found love of Jesus.
Too soon, you are gone.
You, who beat me with your vulnerability
(I swallowed mine) bloom in sons
who, returning at dusk without you,
hide their eyes and hold me
tenderly with your arms.
The Spoon River Poetry Review
FRIED EGGPLANT WITH POTATOES
When I look into the darkness,
it’s my brother’s face I see, the oldest one,
his black eyes heavy with sadness I put there.
Slam his food on the chipped enamel plate,
push it toward him.
He hates fried eggplant with potatoes;
his face and lips all but cry.
I don’t know when he ate,
or how it must have gone down
like splinters in his tight throat.
He always wanted to be close to me,
always took my side,
even wanted to keep me company
in the pitch-black latrine when I was scared.
When he was born,
the musicians came every night.
It seemed everything happened in a white room,
and everyone wore white.
The fete went on for a week,
Nana’s first grandson by his favorite daughter,
the one who boasted as a child she could lie to him
and he’d believe her over anyone, even grownups.
I remember moving about the musicians,
sitting here and there among them,
an all-male side.
The naked light bulbs
glared their brightness on the musicians
spread out on the white sheets
with their instruments on the floor.
HILLTOP, THE BAR AT MIDWEEK
This bar, near Bar Harbor, at mid-
week is empty. No locals
or even summer people
come in to hear
the girl sing her heart out
about a rose—
which brings me to tears—
or to appreciate the rich
splotches of yellow, blue and red
glowing around the big dark room.
Sitting alone with my Campari
and soda, in the wrong glass,
I begin to think of evolution.
I add green to the colors,
the green becomes leaves,
the yellow, pollen.
But there are no bees yet.
So, it must be the wind
in the grass, the green
taking in the sun.
The grass in the cow’s belly
The Carribean Writer, 2007
Independence Comin To Trinidad
Independence arrivin August 31st
overnight dey rite de songs
everybody sportin dey lil red white an black flags
wavin dem about like never see come see.
De air charge wid nationalism.
Even in de backwoods
de teechers jockeyin de chirren
mornin and afternoon into redyness.
Everday learnin take ah back seat
we forget the Cuckoo Burra in de ol gum tree.
Ah singin “Forged from the land of liberty”
an ah strangeness descend on the crong ah meh head,
it lodge in men troat, jes like wen ah first reed
The Merchant ah Venice.
We practice marchin
lef, rite, lef, rite
and now dis coolie gyrl
forget how to walk.
Dressed in we green skirt an wite bodice
an red bows in we heer
we hed out from El Dorado Hindu
dong de Eastern Main Road
an make we way to the University of the West Indies
in St Agustin.
We march arong de round about
ploddin like donkeys
into we pea-pod spot
convergin wid de sea ah students
aready standin in rows in de hot sun.
We march an sing.
The mikrafones buzz.
Speeches echo over we hed.
De teechers smile ecouragement at we
even doe dey too bakin
on the same plateau ah savannah grass.
De festivities goin on
each digniteri puttin he own scent
on the ospicious ocassion
while de entire student body
sweats and wilts
in the dog’s day heat.
De big day overwhelm meh
like a long Hindu weddin—
and no bride emergin.
Ah site de Nordan Range
and flee into it’s vastness,
unperterbed, as if nutten was happenin
wen Independence arrived.
forthcoming in Fulcrum, 2007.