Delores McAnuff-Gauntlett: Three Poems
Riverboat | Flood | The Open Gate
From here, the water sings below forever;
out there, a man dressed in a fisherman’s cap
paddles an unpainted canoe;
en route elsewhere, he watches the slow moon
climb the sky,
moving away from his shore of troubles,
heading to the other side,
passing the red-ripe Flame Of The Forest
where the greying tree beards hang.
There the untamed ping-wing macka tangles
like the news in the city.
He lulls along, cradled on the river’s breast,
rolling over its rocky bed laced with weeds,
next to the whispering woods, his shadow moves
and the slapped-up water
plays its fiddle, mingling with the August breeze,
while the water flows with the river-borne fish
next to where the bamboo feeds.
Dip, dip the water answers back,
till he folds the ladling wings to rest.
First, the rain
pours down like forever
with a heavy barrel of thunder
triggering the lightning bolt.
From an upstairs window, I,
with early retirement on my mind,
watch the water beating the glass,
and the flush of floating rubbish
rise up the gully-bank.
It runs through the city’s afflictions;
it floods the street
where a rigged-up stall by the roadside
soaks with its owner’s dream
of something in common with a modest life.
Then, riding the float downstream
the soaked-out root of a red hibiscus
drifts with all its branches still in full bloom,
guttering without a song, carrying with it
more than you and I know.
The flood’s harvest slides down the mountainside.
A whining dog hides in a low cellar,
and a small child
wriggles out of his mother’s pride,
wetting his pants from the intense
hunger for life twenty years hence.
The Open Gate
A wind is nagging at the open gate
which groans its joints under the blue
of a Caribbean once close
to paradise. Hammered
by rain, burnt rust-brown by the sun,
it swings restlessly as the days sweep back
and forth between the past and peace of mind,
where yesterday’s peak-hour-rush for home
was everywhere, like rain.
Between the evening and the moon
the dark descends, and crime is on the rise.
I’m here, not bragging of a mind that’s bold,
nor like a broken hope on bended knee;
but here, between the Pouis’ gold,
as though having nothing to do but stay
with a belief in better days; here,
with no response to what has made the mess
which comes with blotting out a good intention; here
with the warning wind flinging a gate from side
to side, while the two Jamaicas
meet like blood in the heart, and
not far from here, by a street
dazzled with heat, where the wrong things have changed,
a small boy dashes over a low fence,
his shirt-tail flagging in the wind, soaked in sweat.
and a mother pines
at the edge of growing old
with chapter, verse, and song: the power of her faith.
Delores McAnuff-Gauntlett lives in Jamaica West Indies. Her poems have
been published in The Caribbean Writer/University of Virgin Islands, ForPoetry, Byline
Magazine/USA, The Sunday Gleaner, The Jamaica Obserer/The Arts, Sisters of Caliban/University of Memphis, Bearing Witness 2000 Anthology, and others. Her first collection of poems, Freeing Her Hands to Clap
(unpublished) won the 1999 National Book Development Council of Jamaica award. This collection also was a 2000 finalist in the Brittingham & Felix Pollak/Univ. of Wisconsin 2000 competition. Her poem,"Blank Verse On a Day Like This", won the David Hough Prize, 1999 (University of the Virgin Islands). Other awards include a first place win in the 1999 and 2000 Jamaica Observer Literary Awards for "Mama's Decision" and "Love After Love" respectively. Her poem, "One Easter Day", won a 1999 Writer's Digest award.