Goatwater is a column which explores the mystifying, joyous and liberating concept of Carnival through the New York born and raised, Caribbean-American perspective of poet and artist Tiffany Osedra Miller.
Fruit of the Concrete
Though, in truth, we never walk alone, she walked alone
along a seashore illuminated by starfish.
When the church bell down the beach chimed two in the morning,
she encountered a large rope floating like a boa constrictor
on top of the dark, moody, blue green waters.
She knew, right then – as it had been prophesied – that for the first time in her life,
she would meet her Grandfather.
She waded into the water and pulled on the rope three times and out from the sea came
a broken Grandfather clock – an elegant morass of wood and metal – that her father told her he had miraculously fixed at age six, as it could no longer tell the correct time.
She pulled the Grandfather clock out of the water, onto the beach, and studied it.
Indeed, in the sea, it had once again become undone.
The Roman numerals, like Rome, had fallen
and the clock hands had settled out of place.
By the time the church bells chimed three o’clock, she had managed
to open up the Grandfather clock like a sarcophagus, to look inside.
She found her Grandfather, mummified,
his hands crossed in front of his chest. His skin, hard like concrete.
She recognized him from old photographs
as the mad, maudlin, light-skinned king, cultivator of chaos and cane.
In one high yellow hand, a lump of cotton.
In the other, a lump of coal.
Dangling from a bronze chain around his neck, a crucifix and a flask.
good-looking lover of wanderlust.
At these sweet words he opened his ancient eyes
and his eyes fell into her hand.
She gently placed them back in their sockets.
This act of grace, he told her later, turned on their lights.
And he moved his stiffened arms down to his sides.
He dropped the cotton
He dropped the coal and
stepped out of the Grandfather clock,
turned away, immediately
and with deep apology,
took his first long piss of freedom.
The church bells chimed four o’clock.
He knelt in the sand, wept, and kissed each grain.
Grandfather, who are you? How are you? Where have you been?
Child of my child,
I’ve been to the east of time
I’ve been through the west of time.
I don’t understand.
I am a troglodyte. At least, I feel so.
Speak plainly, please, Grandfather!
Mademoiselle, a brief portrait of me
for some history:
I was born inside the echo of a misty morning
on an island located beneath the evergreen umbrella
of a gutted watermelon
raining its black, beneficent seeds
into Somnolenta Sea.
My father, your great-Grandfather, so moved at my birth,
played his conch-horn like a crestfallen angel:
Bee Dee Dee
Bee Dee Dee
Bee Dee Dee
Father, ran away from me into the mist, then came back into the fog.
My mother, after placing me – her Likkle Barefaced Bamboozle, as she called me –
inside a basin, said:
I mean, A-men
then commenced to continue her Search-A-Word puzzle which she hid deep inside The Book of Job in the Bible.
Bee Dee Dee
Bee Dee Dee
Every single watermelon seed that fell down into the sea on the day of my birth grew into a dusky, diaphanous washerwoman rising up from the waters, carrying baskets of coconuts, bakes and freshly washed costumes on their heads. These were my angels. In my father’s house, your Great-Grandfather’s plantation house –
the house was yellow
the floors were bronze
the goats were white
my young grandmother was black.
And she sat in a corner of the living room, in a rocking chair
fanning herself all day while doing her Crossword Puzzles.
In place of her head was a basket of erect bananas attached to her supple neck. Each shoulder a hardened loaf of coconut bread. Her tits, two, round, royal, wrinkled, semiprecious plums. She called her two, timeless tits, macatampas, and often walked topless. I distinctly recall her, instead of my mother, breastfeeding me. Yet, she reassured God, that her breasts were milk-less, innocent, aging, bulbous, dangling believers in Christ’s eternal love. And God said, Amen. I heard Him!
Then she would play, Pass the Parcel with me until she opened the parcel, retrieved another Jigsaw Puzzle, Crossword Puzzle and Search-A-Word – the latter she gave to my mother. Grandmother took the Crossword. I was rewarded the jigsaw – a jumble of Edgar Degas’ pencil drawn horses, which fascinated me, as the horses – so crudely drawn – seemed so alive.
My father, after work, often blew his conch-horn, outside, alone, in front of the Guinep tree while drinking Guinness after Guinness.
Bee Dee Dee
Bam Bee Zee
Bee Hoo Hoo
The Grandfather, studied his Granddaughter, solemnly.
What is it, Grandfather?
You have the face of your father
except feminine, fortunately.
The face of a siren.
Where is your husband?
all this time that I was adrift
in that sarcophagus –
tell me, where were you born?
Why are you alone?
Where have you been?
As you don’t sound too island.
But I’m still hearing echoes of
shark fin, marlin and dolphin
to pick up on your accent.
My dear, fill me in.
Your son raised me in the Big Apple
Called me The Fruit of the Concrete
I grew bitter, Grandfather.
Now, I grow sweet.
Why did you grow bitter, first?
Tell me or my heart will burst.
Was it because of what happened to me and the family?
Grandfather, set yourself free.
What is most true
is that I’ve always wanted to meet you.
The sun rose and set
and she felt protected
as they both spoke uninterrupted
until Grandfather’s long-lost horse, Quincy
rose up through the sand.
Grandfather kissed the stallion, and they climbed onto his back.
Granddaughter, Grandfather and Quincy, formed a trinity
and right by the sea made a pact of unity
May we experience the beauty of infinite pleasure
then took their first pilgrimage together.