The Caribbean Writer

Fi Me People

Opal Palmer Adisa


(for fay, kezia, eddy, guichard, myriam, danielle, sheryl & donna)

fi me people
cinnamon brown to coffee black
nutmeg tint to copper tone
carrying de smell of cane-fields
dat track dem steps
nyaming green bananas dem tally
for foreign felicity
seasoning all dem eat wid
coconut milk
exultant always hopeful
optimistic people

fi me people
playing jacks and cricket
gathering for ring games and soccer
transforming de stick fight
to dance
burying dem orishas
behind white saints
holding ground
most of de time
dem eyes elsewhere
dan de immediate squalor
oders would have dem
accept as dem life
irremovable resilient people

fi me people
shut out and hustling
in negril & cross-roads
port a spain & laventille
port a prince & lemonade
curico & aruba
san juan & loiza
bathing in buckets
washing clothes at de river
de stand-pipe
nightly rinsing
de one school uniform
dat each morning de pickney dem
clean & freshly pressed

fi me people
keeping dem ancestors close
putting out food
for de duppies & santos
who dream and guide dem
through trouble and bad-mindedness
sprinkling salt for de scouyant
guarding de children
from lougawou
sharpening and raising
de machetes and cutlass
in work and defense
resting come noon day
under de zabricot mango
flamboyan trees
fortuitous people

fi me people
speaking kringlish spanglish
papamento creole
inventing new tongues
chatting all de time
reciting and retelling
dem stories
dancing de bomba plena
moving to de voodun drums
reggae beat calypso pulse
refusing to be subsumed
determined to mek dem
lives an example
tenacious people

fi me people
wid dem plenty laugh
and good-good time selves
wid touchy-touchy hands
dat always connect wid life
dispossessed maligned
nigger-spirited souls
from ghana to south carolina
jamaica to nigeria
haiti to alabama
cuba to st john
fi me people
dem palms touch mine
warm and loving
raising me to me feet
singing me home
giving me back meself
fi love

fi me people
fi me people
all a dem
fi me people


Copyright © Opal Palmer Adisa

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