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
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
‘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 www.soulimagination.org.