for my father
They say what he has is malignant
but they promise more good years.
Now, they say, it’s quality time,
so he’s smiling. Words like
quality and malignant,
you could probe and unwrap them
but he’s batting, protecting the wicket.
The game’s going on, and he’s
out in the field again
with cocoa and cashew, guava and gospo
mango and mortelle, nutmeg and nettle
soursop and Seville orange; he’s
spending some quality time.
We got it all, but it’s malignant,
and he wonders.
They say, Go easy,
but his batting is steady
and he’s smiling.
But soon, he’s brooding,
could feel strength going down, could see
suckers pushing out,
draining the cocoa tree dry,
could feel how the vines curling
and stifling. Could see how
bush growing high and it
choking the crop.
He notice how
most mornings sun blaze
boastful over mountain,
shine bright for a time, then just
sink down dying over the sea.
We tell you, it’s quality time,
and he leans on his bat and he wonders.
The crowd is watching and waiting,
his batting is weaker, light getting bad,
he can’t face the bowling,
sun heading down to the sea.
Bowler runs in, crowd leaning forward,
ball hit timber, wicket done scatter and
suddenly so, sun get swallowed by sea.
Merle Collins is Grenadian author. She is the author of several novels, a collection of short stories, and three collections of poetry. Ms Collins teaches Caribbean literature at the University of Maryland.