My mother never cared for racy underwear in bed.
Her nightclothes were functional and pragmatic,
given to sober thought, nothing that would inflate her head
or excite her palate, or cause her to call out the Lord’s name in apocalyptic
wonder. She dressed her nakedness in the scent of resignation.
Hair and skin slicked down in oils of coconut and castor relieved
unnatural swellings that camphor and candle grease, a benediction
meant to appease the deity of her flesh (if her husband was to be believed)
was wont to quell nocturnal wanderings, or else ease him into
a state of self-induced rapprochement marking
the beginning of the end. Though it would be a sin to
leave him languishing under the eaves where the bare light bulb sparking
off and on reminded her of shipwrecked seamen beckoning
to some far off lighthouse beyond the squall of her resistance, his lifelong duty
was to wrest from the flotsam and jetsam of submerged memory, a reckoning.
Kings and fools in times of war and famine, feast and plenty gather booty
with the novice’s terror for the established order of things:
conception, zeal, marriage, disease, death all follow one imperative,
carnal or divine it does not matter the context or the hour, when the bell rings
to inherit earth the meek must surrender arms so that she may live.
•••Carlyon Blackman is a Barbadian poet who is an avid reader, loves to travel and meet people. Her work can be read in The Caribbean Writer, St Somewhere Journal, tongues of the ocean and is forthcoming in Poui. Carlyon can be reached at email@example.com.