Poem by Jannine T. Horsford

August 15, 2023

Greeting

Listen: a throat quickened by a kind of stunning
cannot pour out
like mellow tea, a Good Morning.

That flesh, arrested, obeys only its need
to choke.

Consider my greeting a tennis ball
(brief fluorescence) which when hurled
grows silver, blurred.

To expect them to return it
was not fair game: they did not have time

to gather provincial nerves, unsnag the mess
of their reflexes.

Then again, Caribbean hips: that wilful rippling
makes any resolution of goodness
unsteady earth.

Maybe to say it while going past me was to accept
that my breath and my body had a right

to that pristine—
to what they must have seen as their own

pearled, girlish light.


But look now: 15 years. This street in Tunapuna.
A painting, a picture. Leaning in

at its edges are rain-lavished green leaves
—and witness

in one yard the silken wilt of an off-pink bloom.

Still. Here, on mornings, mouths are long
and sullen or thin and terse.

Almost all stoppered.

Not here where the rain has relieved the wooden slats
of their rashness.

Not where a window wears a vintage lace—
pink of flower girl dresses
in the satin sheen which aunties loved.

I know some bodies are blistered with tension. I know
to walk here is often to cut one’s way

through a swamping heat—but

some days shouldn’t it be enough—the way this street ends?
With trees, broad and beneficent as bells?

About Jannine T. Horsford

Jannine Horsford is a fellow of the inaugural Moko Magazine Poetry Masterclass (2018), the Callaloo Writers’ Workshop (2016), and the Cropper Foundation Caribbean Writers’ Workshop (2014). Most recently, she won the Bocas Emerging Writers’ Fellowship for Poetry (2022). She is currently completing her debut collection, Island Chimera.

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