The Caribbean Writer


Cecil Gray


All the years I have seen them,
the women you pass
and draw slyly away from,
endure in a week more pain
than all of your life would contain.

Seen them collar each day
and wring out its sorrow
to salvage whatever remains,
face the tiger of hunger
with its stripes on their backs
and wait for its anger
to be tamed by patience.

Surely you saw them,
black bible in hand,
with the dead words of sermons
to cook for their sons,
recite a psalm’s potion
like a magician’s wand.
Their voices have sung
away sirens of death
chasing fatherless child,
brother, lover or friend
to the last taste of breath.

I have seen how they tugged
and pulled at a daughter
to sidle through schooldoors,
through bars of a scholarship,
then thrown, jilted like jute bags,
where no one flung love.

All their days they have
scraped, scrubbed and polished
their knuckles to leather
in some witch’s kitchen,
nailed up falling zinc fences to hide
the tatters of pride,
caught basins of rain
from a leaking roofs eyes.

Have you not seen them pick
withered weeds from stones
knowing them dry,
poke sticks into sand
to make holes for water,
thresh air for some flour
and hustle like waves
fighting the land?

I too have seen them
kneel to the ground
when kneeling was all
that was left to be done,
but straighten again
from the dark like the sun.

Those are the women
who toted the gravel and
macadamised the roads
that you and I walked on.
These are the women
who delivered this land.
Turn now and face them
as well as you can.
One of them made you
woman or man.


Copyright © Cecil Gray

Post a Comment

Skip to toolbar