The Caribbean Writer


Juanita Kirton


i am first generation afro-caribbean american
coconut bread and peas and rice
calypso and reggae
the food identifies the taste
the dialect identifies the place
barbados sweet home of the flying fish
no taking no shit women
“ting and ting
come along nah”
board and shingle buses open to air and sea
stuffed with crying babies and ripe mango smells
meandering down to silver sands
sea cliffs, sharp edges
proud bajan boys
groping under loosely fitted blouses
seeking the small risen ripeness
swimming in blue darkened liquids
through things
filled with anticipation

i bring my caribbean island
to this persistent concrete
to a brooklyn intersection
where every island can find its place
i travel on the icy sands
the wind licking my skin
searching with unaccustomed heaviness
shoulders laden with layers
no amount of bended knees
can shake the chill from these bones
cod fish cakes
dipped in pepper sauce
burns away the soot and ash
from my subway ride
making de money
and bringing me family
is the only truth i know

and when friday finally drags in
olive oil arms and legs
go down under steps
working up to marley, sparrow and lord kitchener
wailing out my old favorites
the closeness of island bloods
trigger heat
the fire roaring
is mellowed by early sun’s rays
i stumble onto snowy streets humming tunes
played over and over
this is not my island home
transplanted by economic needs
i endure the cold
holding tightly to the warmth of my island


Copyright © Juanita Kirton

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