from Unwritten: Caribbean Poems After the First World War, (Nine Arches)
A National Poetry Day 2018 Recommendation


On the day you left
you did look so handsome
in your uniform, allyuh boys did,
so spick and span and proper.
Collars pressed flat, buttons done up
to the top of your necks.

Hats on just right, dark skin
glistening, backs straight
and rifles in hand, with serious
and determined looks on your faces.
So much people came to the port
to wave allyuh off.

We all huddled up together,
like fish in a net, pushing and shoving
to get the best view of the boat.
Ladies in their finest wear, umbrellas
and pretty, pretty fans a plenty.

The dignitaries made an appearance,
and even the brass band was rolled out!
They played so loud they sounded
more like a thunderstorm in the rainy season.

The sun was so hot that day
sweat was running all over my body
just like a boiling spring.
Everyone was waving, shouting, cheering,
but all I could do was hold on
to our child tight like a little life raft.

Every Sunday church is packed tight
as Djembe skin. Everyone asking God
to send their loved ones back
in one piece, and the singing has become
somewhat louder and more urgent than usual.

But me, Dusue, I’m waiting, waiting quietly
to see if my prayers will be answered.
It’s been months since I heard
from you, months since your letters dried up
like a drought, no news carry back
yet, still I hope, still I pray.
There is no way My Lord will forsake me.

© Kat François