The Things I Miss.

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hot ‘tarmac’ beneath bare feet– slippers abandoned, and fingers

splayed upon the road, seeking to capture warmth for themselves;

 

heat simmering across empty streets, empty roads– waves swimming

in the midday sun: people hiding, waiting, watching the sun;

 

the fragrance of curry in the still air– while savouring cook-up, and swank,

pondering met-em, and the power of sweet dumplings in soup, over

heavy ‘duffs’ (doughs?) in met-em loaded with ripe plantains, and good fish;

 

the grating of coconut, the grinding of handheld mills– mortars filled with

the heavy ‘thump, thump, thump’ of pestles pounding plantains;

 

settling onto dusty, uneven floorboards– church pews half-empty, as

congregants kneel in front: skin aches from the cruelty of sand grains,

intercessor’s prayer drifts, soothing afternoon air enters…carries with it

the sound of children playing in sandy, gravel-strewn streets;

 

walking on cracked sea-walls– slippers in one hand, other…sometimes outstretched,

chasing away vertigo, flirting with gravity until slippers are abandoned:

easing over the edge, pausing to find grip, and toe-hold,

earning bruises for clumsy descents,

having slippers thrown down (be careful! people does throw all kind of thing…),

walking, watching water inch in, feeling water lash out;

 

sapodillas cracked open– so sweet…damn it, so sticky;

 

teeth breaking the skin of ripe cashews– jaw clenching, mouth flooding: half,

the flavour of ripe red flesh giving away to white inside, half, mouth watering,

salivating;

 

half-ripe mangoes– sharp, sweet, tangy, rich with salt, and vinegar, ‘hot, hot’:

the sear of peppers;

 

sitting on the upstairs verandah– wide concrete rail, cool beneath thigh: traffic rushing,

house vibrating from speeding, loaded truck (girl! get down from there!);

 

peaked concrete fence, guava tree’s friend– sitting between branches, ignoring

crawling black ants, the press of concrete against bare-foot: belly full, jaw aching,

book forgotten under arm, tree forgotten after cutlass’ touch (what?! you cut it down?!),

and fancy, incomprehensible new fence winks, with its gold-painted iron points;

 

granny’s fish broth– calaloo, and carrots floating: dish made for two, until she migrates…before

the world falls apart, before the months run together;

 

afternoons watching t.v. up close– sitting on the back of the big chair (couch?): one

afternoon nearly taking the glass-filled t.v. cabinet down, as it tips over when it is grabbed

when someone slips a little too far down the wrong side of the chair back…

it is let go, it rumbles, it settles, glass clinks…a heart beats wild, fast, hard;

 

aunty’s erratic, fast driving– clutching handholds in the ceiling, thanking God

we all pray: praying for safe arrival, thrilled, delighted, as the needle inches higher

(now…do ministers even drive?);

 

you;

her;

me?

 

K.N.O.W. Sunday, June 26, 2016. 12.30 p.m.

Death of My Grandmother (Part 2)

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….. I watched her fade before my eyes. The woman whose raucous laughter filled our house, now lay mumbling quietly to herself. She called on the names of ancestors long passed. I saw the fear in her eyes, not fear for herself, but for all the tasks she felt she had left incomplete. I saw the move from the bustling, busy cook, to the tired, shaking hand that could no longer hold a light cup of water. I remember what if felt like, to place my hands on her still chest. I remember the fear I felt, the disbelief that she was really gone. I remember the defeated look of my aunt as she saw her slipping away before our eyes. I remember the calm with which my mother folded gran’s lifeless arms in the position she once loved. I can still feel the bitter sweet irony flooding through my body as I saw the belated efforts of paramedics to revive her. I can still feel the sadness as I watch the undertakers roll her body away, the blue cloth bag looking too still, a reminder that there lay an empty shell, not the woman who spent her all for those around her.

The day I returned to work, I sat on the edge of tears. Controlled, but grieving. When my boss mentioned something about the death, an image emerged unbidden. I saw the future, our cold stove, where we once cooked together, only a summer ago, now covered in empty loveless pots. It was that moment in which I wanted to cry the most.I remember the amusement I felt at the thought of having two funerals. One in this foreign, familiar home, another in the warmth of my homeland.

I sit in the funeral, watching the images of her life waltz slowly across the screen. The impish girl high up in the tree, the young headmistress laughing contentedly with her friend, the sweet smile of her newly married soul, the gigantic laugh caught mid-shot, as we celebrate her 75th birthday. I look at the shell in the casket, and I understand. This is not the end. This was her time. Her chance to rest. Her moment to sleep, relieved from the pain she never spoke of. It’s a small comfort at the time, but we all know. The disease eating her from the inside, can hurt her no more.

It is not the second funeral that offers the finality. It is not the image of the stones closing around her casket. It is the memory of my aunt breaking down in tears, as she tries to begin her speech. It is the memory of my cousin, hugging his father, face in his chest, as he tries to hide his tears. It is the silence that now lies, as the empty spot on her bed remains. It is the sight of her empty chair, as we unconsciously glance at its emptiness. It is the sight of all her clothing, some yet untouched, as we empty out the draws. It is the feeling of loss, as I smell her laundered sweater, the one she wore when she was admitted to the hospital. It is the feel of her palamino, as I rub  it between my fingers. It is the sight of her lovely pictures, as they face me on the wall.

Kadeen Nichelle Oksana Waldron

Thursday, June 14, 2012.

Part One