That Laugh / shakeema edwards

In the backseat of a friend’s ’98 Rav4, on a black night
with a malnourished moon, I laughed—
the type of laugh that dominoes from one throat
to the next until every person in the vehicle is gasping
for breath, but no one wants to breathe
because, like the dormant Kilimanjaro,
no one knows if such laughter will ever erupt again—
the type of laugh that makes you forget
there is crisis in Ukraine and civil war in Syria;
laughter that obliterates recollections
of falling asleep in drenched t-shirts
during the first months of Antigua Girls’ High School
because sticks and stones broke fewer
bones than the words that impaled you on a daily basis;
laughter that wrestles with your memories
and pins in a corner the image of you
licking salt from your open wounded
pride and popcorn butter from your
fingers, as your only friend was a Panasonic TV set;
with whom you watched Johnny Depp on VHS
strum a cigar box ukulele;
Leo DiCaprio sink in the Atlantic;
heard Kate Winslet whisper,
Come back; and whispered with her;
laughter that resurrects
yellow graduation tassels; lips learning to part,
revealing white-picket-fence teeth the summer day
you got your braces off;
laughter that inevitably ends with streaks of salt on your skin

•••

Shakeema Edwards is currently pursuing a BA in English with a minor in Creative Writing. She writes because she has something to say about the world and the people in it. To Edwards, Antigua is the oven that baked her creative writing skills; the smells, colours, and culture of the island often inform the images of her poetry, and they shape the frame of mind in which she writes.
 
•••
 
Editor’s Note: Shakeema was a regular finalist in local writing competitions including my Wadadli Youth Pen Prize programme—having won the 13 to 17 category of the annual challenge in 2010, and placed second 13 to 17 and overall in 2011. I am proud of her strides.

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