March 30, 2017
World Poetry Day
Charlene Wilkinson is reciting poetry in the tongue of our people to the beat of African drums. It is the kind of sound that tugs at your heart until your soul makes itself felt. I am listening to her and I miss you. I miss you more than any man’s language can ever tell you.
She speaks in the language I heard as a little girl near the cane fields or in the boat when mamoo dem bin ah come from backdam. And the language, it plunges into my heart, my soul, piercing me in ways I have never felt; in ways I never thought I’d feel.
And I look up, half expecting to see you, hoping that your ashes could find their way back to me. But I see nothing. There is nothing but the words piercing my heart.
They took you away from me and I could do nothing about it. On one side, they hijacked who you were to create fear and on the other side, they turned what you were into an ugly thing and used it to stir hate. They took you from me and I could do nothing about it.
It has been a while since this sort of spirit flowed through me. It has been a long, long time since I felt this alive, this awake; it has been like coming home. They say that our memories are short and because of this we will always be victim to our political culture. But I believe our memories are long. It is our heart that is the problem. Our hearts cannot bear the pain they’ve given us.
I have taken their new culture. I have taken their new way of thinking. I have taken these things and made a mask for myself. And I wear it to hide my wounds but still, I cannot hide all of it.
Today they told me that my eyes look sad. I am sad and I don’t try to hide it anymore. I’ve learned that there’s nothing wrong with feeling this way. We were made to feel and we feel deeply. This sadness, it is the price we pay for the privilege to love. And it is a price I will gladly pay again and again.
I am sad today but I am not always sad. I am silent today but I will not be silent forever. But until the time is right, I wait silently, sometimes sadly, but always with love.
One thought on “Why it’s okay to be sad”
Hi Sara, the narrative that I insisted be heard as poetry came from an unnamed rice farmer who was interviewed by Arnold Persaud. Dhaniswary Jaganauth received the text from George Cave who was part of a project led by Derek Bickerton during the 1970s. It made its way into a book on Creolese grammar by Hubert Devonish and Dahlia Thompson. We have grown accustomed to hearing English only as the true and valid language, so much so that our refusal to truly listen to each other has become an epidemic deafness; so much so that our heart language is replaced by the stilted English of the classroom forced upon us which falls on deaf or cold judgmental ears; so today we only use our own Creolese for slapstick comedy and crudeness. I hoped that the poem would wrench some hearts. Thank you for this tribute to ordinary people who live extraordinary lives.