My reading was beautiful :) fantastic turn out, shared four poems, and received much love & support, especially from my peeps who made it out and also from people I just met that night :) So I got requests to put these poems online. One is already here on my blog (previous post "I am, we are, speak"), which I closed my reading with; quite a few people came up to me after and said they really appreciated that piece. I felt so humbled and inspired to have queer Caribbean women come up to me to talk about my poem. Very cool.
The big hit though was my poem "minkisi" published in Journal of Caribbean Literatures Summer 2008, Volume 5, Number 3. I wrote this about my gramma who passed away when I was 18 - she raised me and took care of me for most of my childhood. This poem came from a dream I had of her and my desire to hold onto to precious memories. I also struggle with having very few pictures of her, and so certain objects have been very important in sustaining memories. A number of people asked about this poem and said they really liked it :) and that it spoke to them. My gramma's spirit comes through in so much of my poetry, and I'm happy that different people connect with the piece. I'll post other poems soon.
for Mabel Sistella Charles
I open the box of memories where I keep your voice.
I hold onto the fan made of blue feathers, the colour of ocean’s play.
You kept it in a special place on your bureau, that fluffy fan
still in its plastic box. I would go to it, playing dress up,
wearing your church dress with goldish yellow flowers,
pretending to be you with careful fanning strokes.
When I unfurl the fan, your essence fills the space
I occupy, as I breathe in that cloudy picture, holding onto it,
with your song to guide me in this reverie.
I always heard you coming,
the dangling silver gliding on your delicate dark brown wrists,
emitting a relentless power, hands curled from sweeping and scrubbing.
I wear those bracelets, the sound of you, a faint noise in my ears.
The silver bracelets speak of you,
they whisper in harmony of your determination
to perform in a world that could not see you.
I gaze at withered photographs, searching in the shadows
to discover you, flashes caught by chance, holes in time,
haunting with long days of cooking for white families,
still bringing fervor home.
You stare back with defiant eyes, reminding me of your stern
cold love, always assured through stories, songs, and
tasty meals made from grits, rice, and sardines.
I keep the tarnished silver key to your bedroom, as if it will unlock
some mysterious black hole transporting me to the time I need back,
time we didn’t have. Those nights creeping into forever
dangling on despair became easy in your arms as we slept,
and I dreamt of the bookie and b’rabbie tales,
stories you sang to keep my imagination spirited,
I want them again.
your fan’s breeze, your silver’s melody, and your key’s magic, gramma,
are what I have left of you in my box of memories.
*In the Kongo tradition, minkisi are objects that contain medicines and a soul that are spirit-embodying and spirit-directing, thought to effect healing and other phenomena* ~ Flash of the Spirit