Sunday Times / desiree cox

Well. When I see Sister Sheila step out
Face paint up like Jezebel
Royal blue satellite dish of a Sunday hat
Kick off to one side
Breasts mountain ranging
Strapless, under skirt suit the color of Caribbean Sea
Striding, her hard farm funnel foot
Squeeze-up tight
In navy-blue battleship shoes
I thought my hour had come
Lord knows I likes to die. Is only
Jesus one keep me from
Bringing down the House of God
With a hollering laugh I quickly disguise
As speaking in tongues under the influence
Of Holy Ghost fire and brimstone
Till choir conductor flash me a look
To kill on account of the wrong-note I power up
Through ceiling beams infested
With mice and termite
Racking up voltage enough
To backfire and send choir
Off center.
‘It is well. It is well with my soul.’
Sister Sheila she sit
Back pin straight throughout
Pastor Sherman abracadabra oration
Recalling chapter and verse
From Saturday newspaper
On crime rate now apocalyptic
‘Is a disgrace,’ him insist.
‘Church women rendering horizontal service
To politician in private practice.’
At which point Sister Gloria touch Sister Clotilda
Brother Joe scratch he head
Brother Mack rock back
Sister Sheila drop open
Her crocus bag mouth.
Shaggy ‘Church Heathen’
Reggae song well up
inside me when Sister Sheila pitch up.
‘Sinners repent. Repent or else.’
Pastor Sherman immediately proceed
To altar call, him face screw up in shock.
Next thing I see
Pastor put up he hand make a stand
Beacon one peasy-head
Nine-teenager holding a belly full
Of Sister Sheila unborn great grand.


Born in Nassau, Bahamas, Dr Desiree Cox has been educated at McGill, Oxford, and Cambridge Universities. She is a Rhodes Scholar, university professor, writer and international visual artist. A 2008 Cropper Foundation Writers’ Residency winner, her poems have been published in the Cave Hill literary journal POUI. See


  1. This is an absolutely fabulous poem. You caught me right from the beginning and held me through to the end. I found you through “Very Like a Whale” and am looking forward to reading more.

  2. Love it! I love your play on words and metaphors. So aptly describes some of our churces in the Bahamas 🙂

    Keep writing.

  3. It is a poignant reminder of the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Our human, fallible nature may cause us to fall but Jesus is always there to forgive and rescue us.

  4. This is so real and so captivating – I can see the whole thing! Totally amazing – you are truly talented. Thanks for sharing. I can see my grandma saying “crocus bag mouth”- had me in stitches.

  5. Very nice and colorful.

    Keep up the good work.

  6. You write like you sing like you paint like you live
    Probably like you breathe, like you love
    In color and verse
    So full of all that you are
    Turquoise waters
    “Farm Funnel Foot”
    “Breast mountain ranging”
    “Crocus bag mouth”
    “Horizontal Service”
    “Abracadabra sermon”
    “A belly full of Sister Sheila unborn great grand….
    Each phrase a novel and history of our islands.
    Not so ‘simply wonderful’!

  7. Wonderful. Your words are so well placed that each line or two that I read puts an instant picture in my mind and the pictures coalesc to form the story. Thank God for your gift! and thanks for sharing it with me.

  8. Girl yuh mek me laugh an a Friday mawning! Love this poem. I am a Guyana woman living in Wales and only came across this browsing when I really supposed to be cleaning the house!
    The Caribbean come stright nack to me. Poem Xcellent visually and rhythmically, have to show it to my good Christian mum!

  9. desiree, you absolutely amaze me! your art is like your poetry: brilliant hues, deep meaning …
    accomplished writer, artist, teacher, doctor, student — don’t tell me you can cook too? 🙂

  10. Cook? Oh no, no…

    Amazing poem!

    Fantastic rhythm and blues… very evocative.

    Love to you.

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