Poems - Mermaid
by Bernadette Gabay Dyer
(Jamaican/Canadian Author, Storyteller and Poet)
Joseph, don't wake the dogs
Don't send them scampering
Across this parched hot land,
For it is dangerous and dips into steep ravines
Where winds whistle incessantly
In banyan groves
And cry at the shoulders
Of mango and tamarind trees.
You must have heard the whispering
The uproar, the clatter
Of the capricious quarreling winds
That roam and weep
Under the starless sky
Where the moon walks in loneliness.
How I shiver, Joseph, my voice trembles
For well I know, I should not be here
Upon the terrible land
For the night is full of threatening boulders
And ragged stones
Declaring danger at hand
For even in daylight hours
It supports the wandering
Of the sharp-horned, rib-exposed cattle
You love so well.
While I outside your window
A vigil keep
Singing night's dark lullaby
To herald fireflies to light your way
With the coming of a Jamaican dawning
When dirt tracks now concealed
Will be revealed
And hand holds can prevent
Dangerous slips, terrifying slides
Against the bramble, the wicked thorns
Where your bare feet kiss against loose soil.
Now, whistle up the dogs Joseph
Your faithful companions strain to be leader and last
Of your mongrel pack
The scent is on the wind,
Pointed ears thrust back,
Alive with barking and baying
In moonlight remembering.
Descend to the silver river bank
Of broad-leafed jungle splendor
Where float lily pads that glide
Like oil drops all ashimmer.
Do not dally, Joseph,
Entice your companions on
To the lush vine-infested trees
The devilish overhangs,
For in the perfection underneath
We play hide and seek
In the still dark pools
And rushing water,
Nymph and fish in congregation
Clothed in water's silent rings
And in foam and in spray.
Joyous in moonlight's passing
Be not afraid, Joseph
For I am here.
(This poem was originally published in Paperplates Magazine in 1998)