I remember everything: the one room house of rotting pinewood, cardboard walls so thin
household duties were separated by several coats of paint the colour of yellow
when it is warped by the sea & sun; Ma in her lean-to kitchen stirring cou cou & red herring,
mutton soup with cornmeal dumplings. And after working double shift at Little Good Harbour
Ma using rolls of flash band to seal holes in rusting galvanize sheets. Nine months to the day,
her uprights listing sideways, sidings buckling under pressure to remain detached,
her latest conceit came due. Blinds are meant for shade, but Ma laboured to sweep away
the sawdust and the shavings littering her varnished floor after the carpenter attached
the front house and inside plumbing. See pickney play with the afterbirth of feelings:
the drunken brawls for days on end, the closed off minds of little girls with snotty noses
in dirty pinafores sucking thumbs and wetting beds; the ritualistic severing of lizards’ tails,
pigeons sodomized, burnt on spits by tone deaf boys, with grubby hands, striking poses.
God lives in fretwork and leaky ceiling. Though Ma’s ‘good’ chairs swallowed all the room,
there was room enough for hide & seek beneath groundsill or playing doctor in verandah,
for hitting each other so someone would get mad and leave. Exhausted, we assumed
the weight of the world locked inside our chattel preoccupations trimmed by jacaranda.
Our house still waits across the bay: salt spray loiters in distressed flooring boards;
echoes of the past stuck in grooves and jalousies; the future making extra housework. Here
is where I learnt the tyranny of making do and bleach, collected nuance like chiaroscuro’d
conch shells. I read the dunes for clues to an existentialist manifesto. I think I was happy there.
•••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.