Poem by G. A. E. Griffin

February 2017

Is That Rain?
(For Bonnie)

The gurney is a centipede
moving forward and sideways
under low grey white clouds
along a jagged uncertain shore
beside the pale blue curtain of the sea
He is accompanied by thieves
in mismatched unseasonal green and white gloves
Pallbearers working in reverse

The surgery cap is a Tudor Bonnet
on his grey-haired face and grey-black skin
One eye is shot through with blood
The pain in his hip is sensible now
only as a terrible jumby or duppy
hiding by the road

When he sees me he says
“Elmer, your father is in trouble”
It’s a dense Nevis idiom
In it a portion of the distress is
assigned to a history that requires divination
“Edward is in trouble!”
his father augured from his field on the mountain slope
when Daddy was a boy drowning just offshore

When the blood pressure machine
returns to its torpor
he asks “Is that rain?”
In the quiet he hears the first drops of water
down the galvanized spout outside the back door of their bedroom
far from this Miami where his Beloved came to be pronounced dead
“What time does the church service start tonight?”
The question arrived with the rain
It’s Sunday night at 7 or Wednesday night at 6

The thieves return
inspecting his wounds and
stealing mangoes and breadfruit from his prolific garden
He cannot fathom why they are doing this
nor why his adored doctor daughter is helping them
take from the trees of his life

The dismay is mapped inside wide glaucomic circles
in the weakness of his grasp
in disordered memories of his Anjelica
on a stony road in New River
He is beyond accusation
He simply asks
“Bonnie, why are you helping them?”
The interpellation travels like the heaviest stone into the gorge
When it lands the red water turns to the blue of the shore  


G. A. E. Griffin is a professor of psychology in the Department of Critical Theory and Social Justice at Occidental College in Los Angles.