I was born with a stone in my hand.
My first word was not muma.
I learned from early on that duppy know who to frighten
and chose carefully.
I learned to tell the truth an shame the devil,
to be seen when not heard,
to spell names of places I would someday know
more than my home:
knife an a fork an a bottle an a cork
dat de way yu spell New York;
chicken in de caar an de car caan go,
dat de way yu spell Chicago.
I took cod liver oil with orange juice each morn.
I ate green mangoes and drank peppermint tea for the bellyache.
I stole otahite apples from the market.
My hands would not listen and often took licks.
I showed the boys my panty because they said I wouldn’t.
I ate stinkintoe on a dare.
I knelt down in the dirt and made mudpies.
I climbed Tamarind trees, Banyan trees, even Palms.
I walked barefoot and was not afraid to ketch cold.
I tried to catch hummingbirds.
I made bracelets, earrings and rings from flowers.
I was a queen.
I was a mongoose stealing chicks.
I was a goat on a hillside,
sure of the path.