Friday Poem

Coolie Mother

Jasmattie live in bruk-
Down hut big like Bata shoe-box,
Beat clothes, weed yard, chop wood, feed fowl
For this body and that body and every blasted body
Fetch water, all day water like if the
Whole slow-flowing Canje river God create
Just for she one bucket.

Till she foot bottom crack and she hand cut-up
And curse swarm from she mouth like red ants
And she cough blood on the ground but mash it in:
Because Jasmattie heart hard, she mind set hard.

To hustle save she one-one penny,
Because one-one dutty make dam cross the Canje
And she son Harrilal got to go school in Georgetown
Must wear clean starch pants, or they go laugh at he,
Strap leather on he foot, and he must read book,
Learn talk proper, take exam, go to England university,
Not turn out like he rum-sucker chamar dadee.

by David Dabydeen
from Coolie Odyssey, 1988