Elizabeth Jaikaran

in my parents’ country
they discovered spiders big enough to 
eat small dogs. 

the interior jungles are so 
dense with vegetation. so wild
that the only equivalent to the 
free roaming wild cats are
the hearts of the people who run
beside them, 
and those who have peopled the shore. 

you would laugh, you know?
to know that I used to lament 
that I did not come from resort beaches. 
                                    from umbrella’d drinks and bands
performing in floral button downs.
you see, I did not yet understand what 
it means to be from,
to derive from, 
to contain, 
such a wilderness. a
homeland that is raw and exists
without the interruptions of 
pretty mahals
or havelis. 

this wilderness is so selfless,
it will save you and you won’t even know it.
carving from itself to give to you. 
Chief Kai, 
rowing himself over the falls. believing
he could sacrifice himself 
to save his people. 

who am I to forsake that redemption 
for rum and coke on the beach.
for the lure of bejeweled carnivals and 
sexy turtle bays. 

I come from blazing hot sun. 
I come from a shoreline that flirts with the equator,
wind that makes love with the trees at high noon 
in a most sweltering 
heat that proclaims their passion to the world. 
I come from generations of migrants reduced to 
oral histories that are 
cratered by the fallacy of memory. 
I come from brown and black skin
from bones cracking under the weight of 
finding work.
Any work at all. 

I come from a network of rivers 
with names that command the 
use of 
your tongue. 
I come from Potaro and 
Rupunini and 
I come from Demerara. 
and the Demerara gave its blood to give 
sweetness to the world, and bled into me so that I can 
today and say death to the sugar trade 
I am wild.  

Elizabeth Jaikaran is the proud child of Guyanese immigrants. She is a New York-based author and lawyer, with work appearing in Huffington Post, Playboy, The Higgs Weldon, Brown Girl Magazine, Sorjo Magazine, The Muslim Observer, The Jurist, and the New York Law Journal, among other mediums. Her first book, Trauma, was published by Shanti Arts in 2017.