She came to him open-mouthed
like the caves of Gasparee
black gums dripping stalactite
breathing tendrils of herb
Cursing a streak of blue
devils on his progeny.
Unrepentant, she leapt the fire pass
feeling no pain, her steps
calloused since the day
an enemy broomed her feet
so she wouldn’t marry.
Some curses are stern as seraphim.
No fresh souls will visit her house
No urge of calming-milk
will river from her breasts
None will teach her heart mercy
She will avenge them all,
A sickle swings from her womb.
But beware her grief
At night she cries brass beads
If she chokes on one, strike her back
Failing that, poison the gut worms
She may even give you thanks.
Belly laugh with her until she is well
Watch her seethe and rise again.
Nora of the Fairies
We lived near the asylum--
madhouse as it’s keener known
with snide affection.
My mother built a swimming pool
to perish the rainy season toads
sprayed pyrethroid for the red ticks
tended mealy bug to save the red
hibiscus exalting our driveway.
One morning an outpatient ascended our hill.
She drifted up our approach with its cheeky shrubs,
and through the glass door, her crown of hair an Aztec sun
fizzling out, her body dainty light from abstemious fare
or crack cocaine, a Barbie doll, or a cutlass in her grasp,
there was too much stark glare to tell the difference.
Her name was Nora from the Ibsen play, I later learned.
Nora of honour and light. Nora, possibly from the Gaelic.
“This is my house. Get out my fucking house,”
she shrieked in banshee. She must have learned
it from the fairies that soared with her name.
In our land we have no words for fairies
Our mystic women are fireballs or flayers
of their own skin. But never fairies.
At rush-hour downtown, it’s said Nora swings and slams untended cars,
“Lock your doors, lock your fucking doors. Your children will fall out!”
Up to now, no one can say if she died or went some other way.
Thirty years on, at the neighbour’s window, I forget to ask
if they heard Nora’s enchanted screams that day.
I glance my mother’s pool crowned by an archway
not of her design, lined black, unscrubbed
with rainy season tears.
My neighbor of lucid goodwill studies the galvanize
crimp upwards to squatters hill. He says this ward deserves
its dignity; he will convert government stand-pipes
into showers, soaking away all iniquity.
Monday in August and the road is unpeopled
No community to hear his glistening reverie.
What makes them go mad mummy? Is it the drugs, is it the pain?
The school next door is named for a child saint.
The school is disappearing in the gossamer rain.
Going Slightly Bad
I’m going slightly bad
At forty-six, sourness
emanates from my pores
summoning the lechers.
I am bloodsistren to mosquito
that left a legacy ache in the ankles,
restraining my gait.
Legs quaking through asanas
I sweat like a mare
once a dressage filly.
I sleep and dream diazepam
heave awake after coffee
retching the milk.
At dusk, I swallow
wine draughts, driving
sulfites through my temples.
By morning, I am a madder than mad
receptor blocking scientist
blending solvents: bicarbonate, acetaminophen.
Late afternoon, leave me
couched in midday sun
About Gilberte O'Sullivan
Gilberte is a poet and writer currently living on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. She has published work in Moko Magazine, pastsimple.org, Small Axe, and other journals. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Florida International University and is an MFA candidate at The University of the West Indies.
Gilberte has also workshopped her poetry and fiction with award-winning Caribbean writers Earl Lovelace, Monique Roffey, and several others. Among other subjects, Gilberte's poetry aims its lens on women, aging, mothers, fathers, the natural environment and its corruption, pain of lost love, rage, sadness, and perceptions and impressions of ugliness and beauty.