by Deirdre Maultsaid

Published in Issue No. 176 ~ January, 2012

It is not all ripe oranges delicious mangoes


Poinciana trees



although there is sun and it is merciless.


My sister has no time;

fresh water is miles away.


The Maccabee version belonged to the black man.

“Give thanks and praise to the Lord

and I will feel all right.”

Those lions’ manes look good, man.

They were all leaving Babylon soon.


I spied on my sister and she danced to the news.

The world was dancing

they were bidden to it.

They swam from Roatan,


they were innocent.

(All slaves are innocent.)

They will return to the homeland

if it will have them.

There is nothing to eat in the desert;

they should bring their own fruit.


Rotten oranges still float,

dead dogs, too.

There, a dead grey puppy,

each scummy wave sawing its legs.

I am already wise: “Sorry for mawga dog, mawga dog turn roun bite yu”


On top of the sea wall, a British soldier

green trousers to his ankles

is doing a skinny black girl, legs waving, sandals dropped.

It is noon.

She is such a lee pickney.

She must be hungry.


They can hear my bike clanking

can’t they hear my bike clanking.

here comes the Shouter who tramps downtown,

stands in traffic

and redeems us with

pieces of prayers.

He touches my head:

time longer ‘dan rope, pickney.

I feel a tingle a whoosh

of spirit or hot spit.


The couple is there.

The blessing might reach them

or the scummy sea spray.

But he is a buccaneer and she is a Carib.

He is a logcutter and she is mahogany.


No charity for skinny dogs, my sister could tell you.

She herself will leave; I will leave

the soldier will go soon,

but this girl, even swaying,

a fat live chicken in one hand

a full pail of water in the other

is not leaving Babylon.

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Deirdre Maultsaid is a writer living in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her creative essay, “The sun knows what it does” appeared in the anthology, Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood (McGill-Queens University Press). She has been published in Contemporary Verse 2, Canadian Women’s Studies, Other Voices, Prairie Fire and others. Her e-novel, the Ashes of Her Shelter is available from Barnes and Noble, Diesel and others. More information is available at: