My Father's Notebook
I do not know the exact date of birth,
of arrival to the island.
He hardly ever spoke
except to give commands.
Most nights he was nowhere to be found –
I would walk the empty rooms
crying for him, or go out into the road.
Once a woman saw me on the bridge
and brought me home.
After, he tied me to my bed with rope.
He lost all his money three times, burnt down
our shop, the dogs trapped
below the galvanized roof.
He gave me an orange, and we drove off.
He had a cousin across the river.
A waterfall cascaded on the road
and my father carried me over.
He got married the first time in Mocho
but I cannot recall the lady’s name,
only she was nearly white.
Her father was McCormack. They had a baby
and her name was Gloria.
He opened a new shop, bare shelves for months.
We slept in the back with Linda Bloomfield.
I heard them in the night,
I cannot recall if they were married.
He went to Kingston for days to play Mah Jong,
came home angry,
beat me with his belt.
I can still recall the heat and smell of him,
of sweetness and liquor.
He had children in villages all over.
He got married to Bernella.
I saw babies and never saw them again.
I held a baby called Zeta, my sister.
Last time I saw him
he begged me for money.
He was smaller.
The time before I’d held his gun
to his head while he slept
but I didn’t pull the trigger.
He died in 1963 or 1964.
I can’t remember.