A gift of Island poetry

Yvette Doucette

Curated by Deirdre Kessler

Save Article Share Tweet

Grandmothers

they come from the other places
the Jewish one, the Jamaican one
her ancestor shipped from Africa to work cane

they find her, their kin, weary, wanting
gripping her hours, pushing through
her grandmothers hear her, and come

1.
some days she is
barely contained
by bone and gravity

she lifts her feet, placing
one in front of the other
in the way of women

in the kitchen
when she bakes bread
late into the night

the three who are dead rise up
in sympathy, through her tears
and uncertainties, keep her company

2.
some days as she matches
up the socks, she hears
a sound like shells rolling

on stones at the beach
grandmothers clicking their tongues
so she will know she is not alone

singing, she bathes her girl-child
washing her seaweed hair
she hums summertime, the living is easy

when her eyes close end of day
she hears them whisper “sleep now”
feels them brush her shoulders goodnight

3.
in the garden her mind turns quiet
grandmothers take her fingers, plant
safety and comfort between the peas

their time is almost over
they peek in at the sleeping littles
chatter in the dark at the kitchen table

they dream her their memories of lignum vitae
they dream her a full measure of sunlight
they dream her whole and clear

one exclaims in Jamaican rhythm
“That gurl, white as a Sunday shirt!
Still, Lord, she favour us so!”

4.
morning comes, children’s laughter
she wakes and knows her women folk have gone
her day folds outward from breakfast to market

blond toddler on her hip
her dark-skinned girl’s hand safe in her own
she looks down at her smiling

“mommy! mommy!” she calls up
like a hypnotist at show’s end clapping
“you can wake up now”

and she is wild awake! she stares at her children
squeezes their flesh in delight, cannot believe how
solid they are, how bright and content

5.
she was alone and heart-sore
and three who have gone before, her grandmothers,
in the way of women, heard her, held her

sang and danced her, stitched her close in

she feels herself drawn back together

she stretches like a cloud filling with thunder

Yvette Doucette

Additional poems by Yvette Doucette are found in In a Burst of Yellow Blossoms. Saturday Morning Chapbooks, Fourth Series, No. 2, 2014.

Deirdre Kessler selects a poem a month by an Island poet for The Buzz.

A Gift of Island PoetryDeirdre Kesslerpoetry