Everyone called him Massa, my father says nonchalantly to me with eyes narrowing on the tight turn ahead of us,
he is talking about his father, my grandfather
the white plantation owner who raped my grandmother, a strong-jawed woman from Dominica.
This is how my history is transmitted to me, in fragments that ambush me every time I return to the land I call home,
mi abuela es de Venezuela, taken as a child by her father to become the property of his new family. My grandfather, son of indentured workers, a proud man, with a penchant for stoic silences.
I am from a stock that wields irons like hand grenades
mouths that unleash and inflict, leaving rings of fire that keep love away,
but make lovers stay. Yielding forgiveness, needing to nurture, heavy from field, house, hard, heartwork.
Scotch bonnet peppered speech, rich smells of island flowers reach and tug
and swing so gently from your heartstrings. We can see it now, you are falling in lust with us.
I am from a stock of full-bodied women, hips wise, eyes deep, young smiles
that belie the centuries that we live in each everlasting moment. Young smiles, playful and wild that belie the effortlessness with which we lie.
Lies that come far too easily, rolling off tongues, slipping into ears, coming hot
and hard, weightless, rocking like fucking on swings, like fingers intertwining.
Truth remaining only as whispers humming, as feelings lingering fading memories, like walking, waking, dreaming.
It is heartbreaking, that granny, my aunty, my mama, my women, heart first lept in, and then left him, heart withdrawn after time too long of hoping that tragedy don’t win, that penises stuffed in don’t just end up producing girl after girl destined to love unrequited.
And then there was me, bastard girl borne to bind mama and papa, bound to beguile a farmer whose seeds were sewn in wombs too many, fearing so deeply of his own mortality that there are 11 of us who bear his last name.
Bound to show them all, ain’t that right mama, that you can teach an old prick new tricks? And he in his unflinching, in his Trini man rhetoric, in his post colonial convictedness, in patriarchal weakmindedness walked and left her and same same, she left she.
The women I first learned to love, were wounds open, heart open, mouths open, minds closed. Faith bartered for self-battery, cloaked darkly and begrudgingly, unrelenting even to flattery, unaware and unwilling to hold me, unprepared to break down walls built based now on universal laws, DNA coded, biblically foretold, deliberately fated that they shall forever be alone. There remained moments of mimicry where versions of themselves erupted into fits of giggles, burst of foul language and irreverent, deftly executed, all-encompassing hugs.
And here I am hoping, that time is still plentiful, that love is still bountiful, that I am still mouthful enough to speak our truths and spill our stories that link us through sadness and shame, so that we all may reclaim our selves.
Artwork by Tanya Marie Williams, used with permission.