Poem by Keisha-Gaye Anderson

• April 2011

I Am the Caribbean

In the belly of a ship named
for supposed nobility
I came this way
From low-caste Bombay
to Chinese-built railway
I came this way
From Irish town here
poor as the one back there
I came this way

I became that jigsaw piece
floating on the archipelago
too enmeshed to go
beyond the gravity of
my being

I am the Caribbean

a sweltering pool of
disjointed life
every day remaking
reshaping itself into
an electric rhythm
skipping from
batá
to tassa
to nyabinghi
weaving through me

Making me

that kumina sound
that pan melody
that flute in the hills
that shak shak
that brings back
that sound of conviction
of personhood fought for
the independent ardor
that we bled to see

I came to be

that diasporic medley
calling me down
to ride through this life
changing shape as I see fit
and though we may forget
the names of spirit
we call them viscerally

to Trench Town
Port-au-Prince
Port of Spain
concrete just the same
all repositories
of potential energy
and stilted memory

I am the Caribbean

 

Keisha-Gaye Anderson is a mother of two and a poet, journalist, and fiction writer. In 2010 she was named a fellow by the North Country Institute for Writers of Color. She is a founding member of Poets for Ayiti, a group that has recently published the chapbook For The Crowns of Your Heads; proceeds of book sales will help to rebuild Haiti’s Bibliothèque du Soleil in Port-au-Prince, a library razed during the earthquake. Anderson has published poems in two volumes of Poems on the Road to Peace (Yale University Press, 2002, 2004), in the Killens Review of Arts and Letters (2011), and in the online literary journals Street Notes and AfroBeat. Her poetry chapbook Circle Unbroken was self-published in 2003. As a journalist, she has contributed feature articles to magazines, including Black Enterprise, Honey, Upscale, Psychology Today, and Teen People, and has worked as a producer or associate producer for domestic and international broadcasters, including CBS, PBS, and NHK (Japanese TV). Anderson also contributed an essay to the anthology Sometimes Rhythm, Sometimes Blues: Young African Americans on Love, Relationships, Sex, and the Search for Mr. Right (Seal Press, 2003). She currently works as a college administrator and is pursuing an MFA in creative writing at the City College, CUNY.