Fabulous Eyelids / olive senior

………………Et nos parpières fabuleuses O
…………….. (And our fabulous eyelids O)
……………………. St-Jean Perse, Éloges 2

O ma mère, Madonna of the clothes-line
Embrace me, the child cries.

………………………..Stiffened against
the breeze, braced against the sun in her
eyes, Madonna the vise grips clothes pins
in her mouth, jabs the line, nappies
endlessly slapping white clothes Jesusing
to blue skies
………………..and khaki pants for sons
1, 2, 3, 4, stiffening in the breeze with
father’s workingman’s blue that wouldn’t
do for Sunday sporting that she pretends
she doesn’t know about though she adds
more and more blueing to his whites nicely
ironed for the village rooster’s outing.

One day, the sport was left on our doorstep.
She took her in, grudgingly.

O sister, my sister of the
fabulous eyelids unlocked, you have our
father’s eyes.
I took your hand. With you,
our house at once grew.

In the wash, increasingly, much too much blue.


A Jamaican now resident in Canada, Olive Senior is the author of over a dozen books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction; her latest is the poetry book Shell. Her novel Dancing Lessons and a children’s picture book, Birthday Suit, will be published in 2011. Her short story collection Summer Lightning won the Commonwealth Writers Prize and her poetry book Over the Roofs of the World was shortlisted for Canada’s Governor-General’s Award for Literature. Her other books include Arrival of the Snake-Woman, Discerner of Hearts (fiction); Talking of Trees, Gardening in the Tropics (poetry); Working Miracles: Women’s Lives in the English Speaking Caribbean and The Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage.

One comment

  1. Reply

    this is a great website! what a beautifully written poem! it’s astonishing, the talent; i’m a happy man!

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