I hope your travels have made you
long for home. Before the chill of winter
dries your bones into a too fragile
but comfortable exile, remember the vines
covering the verandah rails, the sunshine
peeping through, and the sea breeze carrying
a mid-day drizzle. Before you lose your way
to another love, remember the shade
on your favourite Sunday seat where
you imagined grown-up life
and after your weekly bicycle ride
you sipped a glass of Mama’s
ice-cold lemonade. Mama is on
the verandah now, looking out,
counting the spinning wheels.
She calls “Time,” in anticipation.
Fire deh a Muss-Muss Tail
There is always a cool breeze
in the hills of Portland. Muss-Muss
don’t know seh breeze working
with maroon to lure invaders into huts,
then lull them to sleep. A make-believe
fort, our thatch roof huts left vacant.
They march with muskets,
out-gunning our butas.
They carry food and water,
but we who are under science
live off berries and raw fish;
cannot risk smoke from fire.
Early morning after three
when Bakra fast asleep, we mek
poison butas, and fire the thatch
from “high up” in the trees. We watch
the hut catch fire, and
so dem come out,
so we kill dem.
Navigating the Middle Passage
I set aside the cube of Kabaa,
the aftershock of being erased,
choosing to believe in the network
of travelling tap roots and the mist from
the wide open ocean. To tell stories
of lembe space, and field hollerers
trans-limitless in building spirit bones
and tree tops. To fashion renewal
of river bottom, and coral reef
with xplantation psyche
of praise. Praise and more praise
for Ashanti, Kikuyu, Mandingo, praise.
Praise and more praise for revival
gatherers, praise. Praise and more praise
for underwater currents
travelling us up, to the utmost
corners of the earth,
When you first came
visiting, my kitchen
was bare, but for
your occasional calls
which sent me scurrying
about; the faded curtains
needed changing and the
empty vase needed flowering;
the low-boy stove sat
quietly out of place, yet
no hunger lingered there.
I tell you this so you will know
the woman, mother, friend
that I am. At moments I missed
aromatic coffee and spices and
herbs of Mother’s kitchen
and my ephemeral childhood.
But will never own cooking,
housekeeping, or baby making.
I am also father’s daughter.
Spring Hill calls me, “Come back”
search out firewood and flint,
light the way for the ones
who should come.
In my kitchen there will
be fire, If not a stove.
Monica Minott is a chartered accountant and a chartered secretary. Two book-length collections of her poetry have won awards in the Jamaican National Book Development Council's annual literary competition. She has also had her poems published in the Caribbean Writer and Cultural Voice. Minott won first prize for poetry in the 2009 Small Axe Literary Competition.