Your grandmother’s house used to rise out of roads
and roads of melancholy history,
used to sit alone, the old people filling
doors of warm light with their aging selves,
vines breathing in the dark, fireflies
zapping voltage through the trees,
bittersweet dwellings, stories of tired eyes
heavy-rimmed with economical candlelight.
Beneath the house, behind,
where night chickens slept puffed up
in some cool, red sand left over from last
century’s dream of renovation,
one sister kissed a boy behind the dusty crocus
at night, (whatever happened always happened then)
while the house, already puzzled by evening’s entrance
sagged one inch further into oblivion,
tired of stories, tired of shadows,
as houses become in old age.
In this house your grandfather went blind,
bathed half-blind and you stole a look
and all around it was the last, wild
paradise of cherry trees, it was mango sap falling
daily on your forehead blessing you
or cursing you, you take your pick,
it was blushing guavas and
August blowing green,
whatever rivers you lacked,
they flowed from your teeth
as you bit into a paradise plum,
the old voices called you.
There must have been frogs and things
dying in the irrelevant earth
where the comfort of concrete ended
and the old fear began spinning blades of grass
all over the place, dog-dung grass
with my mother’s old footsteps
preserved, sadistic pickles
in the underbellied dirt.
I ran there too with unkempt knees,
dogging the sadness of uncles and aunts
who quarreled or clung to weekly visits.
Even indoors with camphor balls,
colonial sachets, and vinyl carpets
was that shameful dirt, the mockery
of rain-streaked windowsills,
the dusty but-crack in the living room
wall where the earthquake farted,
then left, the bathroom a slimy
confessional with plastic curtains.
They used to tell far-fetched stories
of Pond Road, the other house,
as if there could be another
resting place for the ghosts
of grandmothers with Venezuelan breast moles
burrowing in soft, diabetic flesh,
for woodsy grandfathers who embroidered
cabinets and boasted classical repertoires
of limacol and reticence, as if
Kitchen Juliets could be transplanted
to just any windows, for any misled
boys to woo her for any ice,
as though she were that rich,
that watered in waterless times.
No. It is too late for the unlived
misfortune, for the primordial
structure of before and after,
to give other names to melancholy roads.
•••Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Summer Edward is a Master’s student at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in BIM, Philadelphia Stories, St. Somewhere and tongues of the ocean. She blogs at http://www.summeredward.blogspot.com and is the Managing Editor of Anansesem, the Caribbean children’s literature ezine.