Granny

 

I am an old woman made of deposited salt

My bloodline runs authentically hot

I hail from perpetual sunrise

Where battle is real and peace treaties are lies

Spent decades on my feet and kept my house clean

Raised chickens and children under rule of British Queen

Voyaged across the Atlantic through treacherous middle passage reef

Found rocky shores of New Scotland, Tancook cabbage, and bully beef

Built a home away from home using scraps of knotted lumber

Felled trees of hard knocks and hard won my short slumber

A product of survival and scarcity

Grandmother of plenty rude pickney

Like dis pretty likkle one here, just turn 23, Say she goes to uni-ver-sity

Schooled in critical feminism & fancy race theory

I was never taught to be critical of my history

Had no time to figure out philosophy, found maths a bit too ‘calculacy

So I took a slow minute to count one to ‘tree

Summed up my children on hands and knee

While she waxes her big people degree, tongue wagging ‘bout colonial austerity

Says my folklore Fante faith is a practice of fu-ti-lity

That my cataract vision lacks clarity

But I can still clearly see and feel the scars of hypocrisy

My Ashanti people pioneered absent terrains of de-territory

Withstood no vacancies and no jobs here sorry

The mystery of my history she breaks down for me

The metalanguage of race she translates haughtily for equality

Granny she says with strong chin

interpreting for me Code Noir of French and British imperialism

She gestures cut eye and kiss teeth how us Caribbean folk behave:

Old woman you are so much more now than a glorified nurse maid

You were recruited for academic merit and skilled employability

Visas are no longer denied based on race and nationality.

One thing I do know from the years of looking back

If I ever fixed my mouth to talk to grown woman like ‘dat

my mouth and ‘ma tail would have get slap

I would have felt the rod on my seat of my education

What ‘dis girl know ‘bout involuntary disciplinary participation?

I tell her: no matter how biggity you feel in that self-labeled identity

Or turn up your wide nose to capitalist prosperity

how hard you kick the gift horse of liberty

Sweet girl I’ll still give you one lesson for free

One you can take very personally

Ole Granny can still bend you over her knee

Look chile there in the dark hollow of yonder tree

the ship gallow where they stacked and chained whole villages quite legally

Little Black Sambos for the new community

refused us education spare needlework and carpentry

See there where that resilient little Birch tree bends

And the pristine whiteness that lies where the treetop descends

The trail of broken canoes in the shallow pockets of promised land

The broken spirits on soil that cyaan grow banana and yam

Where at the promised treetop is the place for we?

From the frozen North we will never pick mango or sweet dilly

This short summer can never warm to Linton’s dub poetry

Shaded by the cursed penmanship of dead poet society

You and all your education

Come from the humanities of feeder school segregation

The backs of many Jamaicans laboured and toiled that great hill

For your high and mighty city view from the Citadel

Sweet girl you can’t hypothesize centuries of genocide

Millions enslaved and severed from land and family ties

Gold Coast of golden plantain plundered for plantation crops

Tribal nations reduced to concubines and sweatshops

Our history isn’t something you can feel from a newly written book

Cuz you don’t know the real story until all your facts gets took

You think I’m subservient because I’m so neat and quiet

What you know about the necessity of riot?

18th century Nova Scotia kept thousands residentially and mentally enslaved

Parliament sowed sloppy seeds wherever it forcefully laid

You’re the light skinned reminders insidious attention paid

Book of Negroes and church obits the only clue to how most of us were made

And even those can’t be fully trusted

Language preserved in code to allude Colonel Mustard

We didn’t have material resources

Faith and education were not at all easy choices

But if we learned anything from 140 years of Trelawney Maroon strategy

Even more than the hard lesson of coerced policy

It’s that we were free before the bondage of subsidy

Daughters of mountaineers and Dahomey warrior brides

Revolts of British colony and evangelical Baptist scribes

“Come-from away” culture passed on through artistic oral history

Social work and scientific achievements are buried in mystery

So before you try to wrinkle my starched Sunday wear

Just know I ironed my burdens with care

Laid them down with righteous song and tearful prayer

Weaved my worries into baskets from scraps of birch tree

Carried life and love for all of you pickney

Now you come with plaited weave to tell me ‘bout my history

But what do I know? I’m just an old woman of deposited salt

Whose bloodline runs authentically hot

Hail from the lifted head to the perpetual sunrise

Where the battle is real and peace treaties are lies

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