I am 10.
There is a dead body in the house
wrapped in white, laid on corrugated zinc sheets
covered with ice.
My aunt says my grandmother
would never harm us, so she compels me to
“go light the lamp on the table” beside the dead
A dare uttered so subtly;
a wicked stepmother with a poisoned apple
that did not induce sleep but made me a cripple.
I swear my quivering knees are my grandmother’s chattering teeth
protesting under the double cold of death and the icy sheet –
“The dead needs no light Sissy!”
My father said she meant well.
I knew her intent was as polluted as the melting ice
puddling at the feet of the dead.
Janneth Mornan-Green is Jamaican. She is a graduate of the University of the West Indies, Mona, where she studied Literature and Communication and now lectures part-time at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC). Her work has appeared in Dream Rock, a collection of poems edited for the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) by Kamau Brathwaite as well as Bookends, the literary arts publication of Jamaica’s Sunday Observer. She has also published Crossings, a collection of poems.
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