Good Names for Three Children / shivanee ramlochan

Do not go into the dark alone.
Hold my hand; I don’t care if it
embarrasses you, or makes you fret,
squirm like you were trying to crawl out
of your own skin.
You pull away and slice me across
my Achilles’ heels.
Three years later you will fling yourself from me
into the grinning gamble of oncoming traffic
and your years of being carried
will rush up like starving orphans to kiss your palms.
Do not go into the dark alone.
Remember your right to use it—
your voice, your arms, your
High Street San Fernando desire for the
girl with an orange blossom tucked behind her ear.
Do not wake, sleep-ransacked,
bleary-eyed with a fraud’s tears,
feeling filthy for the way you love,
the how, the who, the where.
I cradled your strong limbs in my belly
and they tapped out against my bones
the morse code of your whole life.
Your whole life—
remember your right to use it.
Do not forget the dead.
They sit at your table to stave off
food poisoning; they have caught
your infant from the clutches of a fumbling man.
You are poised in every instant
over the fertile graves of millions.
will erase your mother’s smile, the gate swinging open
as you step off the school bus, the tug in your chest a sea swell
as you swim always towards your first love.
Do not forget the dead.

Shivanee Ramlochan participated in the Cropper Foundation’s Residential Writers Workshop in 2010. She runs the book review blog, Novel Niche, and is working on a collection of short fiction that focuses on the interrogation of desire, gender and language in the Caribbean. She lives and works in Trinidad and Tobago.


  1. Wonderful stuff, Shivanee. I always look forward to reading your poems… each one startles, unsettles and ignites in such a uniquely “you” way….

Comments are closed.