“My man is dead Commish,” my voice soft, empty not even hateful, I don’t hate this man no more. This voice that comin’ out my throat is cold like the inside of a deep freeze, cold and hollow like the frozen hold of the freight boat that comes to the island twice a month. “He is dead, but he still my man.” I ain’t stop chopping yet. The blade in my hand still feel light as air and it still flashin’ sunlight off its edge, still spittin’ rock and fire every time it hit the ground. Murphy’s eyes... Sign in to see full entry.
“Mornin’ Miss Ida,” the voice come from close behind me. It Darrel Murphy, smiling broad and looking cool and fresh in the morning sun. He give me a start, sneaking up on me; just ain’ natural for a man so big to move so quiet. “Umhum,” I say’. I walk couple steps away from him, assault another piece of bush, chop at it so hard shards of rock spray out and sparks fly off the cutlass. Every swing I make is a curse I rain down on his head. As usual he don’t take the hint. “Fine day we havin’ Miss... Sign in to see full entry.
V Morning find me in my field, my own little stretch of rock and soil where I raise water melon, tomato and peas. Just like the Co-Op field the corn stand’ tall in mine too, and just like in the Co-Op field keepin’ the bush back is a daily chore. The sound of me working rouse the birds out they nests to start singing, but I can’t find the heart to join em today. The mosquitoes surprise’ to see me out so early, they buzz me plenty tryin’ to figure out what I think I’m doin’, but they too confused... Sign in to see full entry.
Sophie fix’ on me with her dark, kind eyes; her strong hands take hold of me and pull me into her arms. Sophie smell like soap and sweat and everything good ‘bout a kitchen. She smell like a home should smell, like most of her long burdensome days are happy ones. She lay my aching head on her chest, and she hold me like I never let her do when I got the news ‘bout Franklin boat turnin’ up. Her song take’ me back to that night. Her arms and her smell and the dark compassion shining wet and hot in... Sign in to see full entry.
IV Most Sunday evening’s I spend visitin’; I take a pan of potato bread or carrot cake and go round to Ol’e Miss Walker who joints swell up too much to allow her catch service for herself. I sit with her and sing the hymns I already sang in church so she don’t feel too left out. I do li’l things round her place; straighten it up so life a bit easier for the ol’e widow. Then I go see Sophie and couple other ladies, trade food and tales, talk ‘bout Service and sometimes sing a little. But today I... Sign in to see full entry.
Like all the women I stand up and praise God. I wave my white handkerchief in surrender to the Spirit and encourage my Preacher to bring the word. And Preacher, he spittin’ fire now, holy fire, goggle eyed like some old-testament prophet and ready to work wonders; if he led the way out into the bay right now every last one of us would get baptized again. All over the church, though, men starting to sit small holdin’ they arms ‘cross they chest. I see a couple glance at their watches and shift in... Sign in to see full entry.
III “Bless the Lord,” Preacher say’. “Amen,” we say’. The air so heavy inside the small stone church it press’ down on us like the hand of judgment. Sweat crawl down my neck, prickin’ my skin like spiders’ legs, until it soak into the back of my navy blue dress. My eyes keep slidin’ over to the windows, drinkin’ in the bright sunshine and the trees’ slow dance with the fresh breeze pushin’ inland from the sea. None of that breeze makes it past the church doors. Not much of anything refreshing... Sign in to see full entry.
Sophi put her hands on her hips and heave a sigh that get her breasts to bouncing. “You never think ‘bout leavin’ here Ida?” She lookin’ out at the water different now, lookin’ as though she hear someone callin’ her name out there. I’m familiar with that look, I hear people tell me I wear it on my face all the time since Franklin left, but that expression don’t look right on Sophie delicate features. “You ain’t from here Ida. You still got your people in Freeport. Why you don’t get yourself back... Sign in to see full entry.
“Hey Sophi, where you get dem conch?” She smile’ at me; her round cheeks dimpling and her long-lashed eyes flashing like she a schoolgirl with a secret. She walk strong, striding like the talcum soft, white sand under feet ain’ no different than the tar road running though the middle of the settlement, and reach my house quick. “Junior’s two boys took the small boat out this mornin’.” She tell me, hauling herself up the steps to join me in the shade. “Come back with half a boat full.” “Dem boys... Sign in to see full entry.
II I wring out and hang up the laundry I left to soak once I get back to the house me and Franklin built right out on the water. Every day we get a strong breeze off the sea, even when the weather turn cool it never take long to dry the clothes. I sweep out, run the mop over the floorboards, check on my crabs in the pen and take a little bit of fish out the freezer to thaw while I wait for the clothes to dry. Once they picked in, I get ‘em folded quick, then sit down on my porch and look out... Sign in to see full entry.