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.

Not Quite The First

When I first saw you,

You were little more to me,

Than a boy in short pants,

With skinny, hairy legs;

You had eyes that told too much,

And you were just another “project” of sorts,

My best-friend aimed to save.

We were young, and brazen, she and I,

And thought all the broken were ours to fix.

Young, and brazen.

 

When I first looked at you,

It was the summer of ’69.

No, I jest—you know my humour too well,

Us both ’94 babies who aimed things at twenty-one;

We were walking the cemented pillars

In our colonial best, my best-friend and I,

And you’d just graduated from a project to be salvaged,

To a boy with beautiful eyes.

I laughed in perfect humour

(So I wouldn’t have to roll my eyes),

But you walked by—

With the ghost of your name still on our lips.

That day, I found out, she was right.

You did have beautiful eyes;

Butterscotch, and amber,

(And that famous whiskey-brown the romance novels talk of,

When the sun caught your eyes).

I turned away, and poured that whiskey down the drain,

But the aftertaste of butterscotch,

Still burned my tongue.

 

When I first noticed you,

It was the year of ’09;

Standing on rough stairs

In pants that hid your knees,

With your back to the door, and the folds of long pants,

Sat neatly round your ankles.

You weren’t quite her project anymore,

So I smiled a rare smile,

Acknowledged your fine eyes,

And tasted whiskey doused in butterscotch.

 

When I first loved you,

It must still have been the year of ’09—

With that door against your back,

And fine eyes that asked too much.

I’d sipped too much whiskey,

Off a glass pane I couldn’t even touch;

But I did know right then,

Before I relearned sober,

That for anything you couldn’t ask me,

And all the things you wouldn’t ask for

Because you’d learned that wanting was too much,

I’d pour myself another whiskey,

And lace it with butterscotch

(The one flavour I learned to savour)

Because I liked the sunshine in your eyes,

And I’d be damned if I let you think

The only thing you would ever get if you asked for it,

Were rain clouds when it flooded.

 

When I first fractured,

I’d barely turned nineteen,

But I knew then, what I know now,

That I’d fix me just right,

So what we’d be all right,

Because ‘though you weren’t quite the first,

And neither was I,

You were still the only first,

Whose eyes did all the right asking,

And I’d be damned if I didn’t stay,

And say all that mine had promised.

 

K.N.O.W. Friday (morning), November 6, 2015. 03:15 hrs to 04:26 hrs.