TO SYLVIA GONZALES
You carried me casually, a rum and Coke
sounding softly in your left hand, your bony fingers
cupped around us both, black as tamarind
scraped from its shell. You lost
your parents at thirteen, learned to bury
your hands in the earth, turning
the soil for ferns to grow in their coconut husk
cradles, until Pixie died, her fledgling limbs curling
inward, and you said, “no more.” Then came Susan
and James who was born at midnight
with a caul over his face, half in this world,
half in the next. By the time I came
Susan was searching your closet for bottles
of Vat 19 and vodka while you taught me ragtime
and I massaged Vicks into your foot
where the steelpan had crushed it
all those years before. Granny,
you called me at school to tell me
that you held a hummingbird in the garden,
its rapid pulse beating into your palm.
You closed your eyes against the seeking
gaze of the sun. The bird you took as a sign,
an end to early morning walks to market
with a hand-rolled cigarette and wares to sell.
No more roaming at all, the island that you loved.
“Don’t cry, doux-doux,” you said.
“I’ll talk to you again. Tomorrow, please God.”
Granny, behind my closed eyes the sun has lit
a confusion of vessels, a bleeding of red
and orange. I turn towards Trinidad, lean
the aging heft of my body into the lost
sparseness of yours, and drink to you.
Jozelle Dyer was born in Trinidad, and raised in New York. She currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia.