The thumping sound the pounding
of plantains in the wooden mortar
made on Sundays thudded my door
so I opened and saw them at work.
Quiet labor infused an aroma
into my Sabbath, up from an altar
on which pots bubbled the scents
I remember with reverence.
Boiling callaloo bush sent fragrance
that trailed wafts through the house.
Fried plantain and stewed chicken
blended with smells of the souse.
I thought of the rites of that mass.
The callaloo bush had to be checked
carefully, ends of leaves deftly plucked,
the stems peeled and broken to fingers.
The crab was scalded and cracked. Garlic,
onion, a sprig of thyme, a red hot pepper
were added in with the chopped ochroes
and, in the ham season, a bit of hamskin.
The morning’s elation chanted its Gloria
up from the bubbling pots. Consecrations
by scented hands transformed those offertories.
No incense rose higher in prayer.
In house after house that communion
service was held and it bonded
all in the love the women provided.
It was that blessing kept the day sacred.
This Sunday my psalm sings high
notes like bright diadems in the crowns
our revered queens wore. With love’s oil I fry
strips of plantain into ambers and browns.
Copyright © Cecil Gray