Mon Repos / summer edward

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.

8 comments

  1. Reply

    Summer,
    I feel as if I have read a book because of the richness of each stanza. You place each human being and the house
    itself so artfully within the wiles of nature. In my mind all these elements become one (because of your skill). I want to say that you write like the weather, and by that I mean you know how to stir things up and then subtly fade them away like a tropical breeze moving through, or like a memory playing its rich and diverse tricks. This is a poem I will learn from as another island writer. It will be reread many a time. Nancy Anne

  2. Reply

    Summer, you’ve woven a complex tapestry with this poem. There is, indeed, a deep current of melancholy running beneath this, but you’ve also made real the people and house through your intricate (and clever) descriptives.

  3. Reply

    Thanks folks 🙂 Your comments really made me smile! I dedicate this poem to my grandmother, the ‘Kitchen Juliet’ of the second-to-last stanza. RIP Mom xoxo

  4. Reply

    My darling child,

    Once more you have made me cry..the happy and the sad kind of cry; the kind that comes with nostalgia and with love. Thank you Summer. I am so proud of you.
    Love
    Mummy

  5. Reply

    Wow. You are so talented, in a way that I don’t think you even realize. Such a skilful writer to be able to bring these visions to life. Beautiful job! 🙂

  6. Reply

    Stupendous effort Summertime, immense pleasure to hear you rhyme, even in a moment of time, while standing on just a dime, thoughts translated so sublime.

  7. Reply

    you’re very good at creating a sense of location. I need to study this poem

  8. Reply

    I feel very honored to have someone say that want to “study” my poem :O Thanks again for the support everyone.

    You too Uncle Bart lol

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