The old woman stood in the tamarind’s shade
Bermuda grass bristling her bare feet.
Her head tied like her hands,
akimbo, mouth snarled in command,
madras wrapped, dough under her fingernails,
her spattered apron clinging to her stomach.
The two hired men bent in the heat
fired bronze backs strained, spun,
stretched, their cutlasses swung,
and grass, branches, leaves leapt up
over their heads amidst the frangipani
and balisier, flamboyant, oleander.
These old men are nothing but wistful,
eyes of nostalgia for the old days of the empire.
Reddened faces behind silver whiskers wrinkle
as they slur stories of seafaring between coughs.
The smell of liquor and phlegm hangs above the table
and the dying cheap cigars are balanced
on garish white ceramic ashtrays as certainly
as a kingbird on an electric wire,
some anonymous grub held hostage in his beak.
He beats the shelled insect against his perch;
the church bells echo from the tower,
counting hours slowly behind two rum glasses.
The seas roll in the distance,
chopped and angry, surely edging the island
from its quiet resting place.
In the Terminal
The old West Indian men guffawing at the bar
wear their decades in wrinkles on their faces.
Their laughter hangs lewdly in the air,
a rich vibrato falling in the quietest places
of the terminal, where it stirs a glistening glare,
a sucking of teeth—here or there.
My nib pushes their lives into the nouns
between my page’s pedantic rows.
I regain my pondering of Tiepolo’s Hound,
unfolding my brow’s less ordered rolls,
measuring my time in hideous cups of coffee,
the pages patiently ticking past the hours.
In that moment, the muddy froth hardens
and stains the white ceramic.
Richard W. E. Georges teaches English and literature at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in the British Virgin Islands. His work has appeared in Smartish Pace, St. Somewhere, and the Scottish Poetry Library’s The Written World. He is currently a doctoral student at the University of Sussex.