They do not call the place Puss Hole like the people do,
but a government name, a through-road clogged with shops
and gravel passes leading to zinc roof illusions amid the trees.
They do not call it an avenue, not a way, but a gorge
in the hill where yards rife with sharp rock, grow concrete
verandas on board flats and haul brown tarp over their faces.
When Berkshire makes the news, it is set in Bethel Town,
9 miles south of itself, where a woman can be 44 and also 48,
her name: Grace. They say her son was quiet, didn’t mention his name
showed a photo of her older child, graduation day.
The news man dodging dogs and tree limbs wants to know
where he is. He writes what the welcome sign says
and sets the clamoring scene closer to coast. He says Grace
of the green hills lived in a town, maybe with sidewalks,
a police station, names for its streets. Not up there, ‘roun so. Not here.
The crowd converged on the main wants to know why a son,
13 years in the afterbirth, would summon his mother’s blood again,
rinse the knife and in the middle road, blame his hand on the deep night.
Caribbean Postcard from Fort Worden
My teacher says occupy any seat in the schoolhouse.
I pretend to be under bronze Madrona, near brick castle.
She walks the room issuing postcards
of tigers, birds, places towering over water.
For me, a lighthouse card with sparks of reds, whites, ocean
coming in and I think I spot my land in the undergrowth.
Teacher says, rip your card and I do not. The graying
woman who borrowed my pencil bites her bird.
Tell me what it feels like, my teacher says, and one man with a tiger’s eye
in his left hand says he thought of old faces, overgrown with ivy, rusting.
I fold, wary of losing another place, allowing the column of white to mask
the lilies, the sea grapes, saving the tower as evidence of something inland.
But I fold again and fracture the stone, consume the sea.
Again, my teacher says, and my island goes white under me.
Yashika Graham is a Jamaican writer, visual artist and student of Literatures in English at the University of the West Indies. Her poems have been published regionally and internationally including in The Caribbean Writer, POUI, Spillway magazine, Cordite Review, Moko magazine and Jamaica Journal.