Let’s tell ourselves the truth: we make this love, this farm, this marriage, by disjointing the mouth of the horse, sonneting him wild, leaving his supple flanks dismembered in the barn.
Let me be honest. I love you like I fear God. A part of me is always severe and coltish under your gaze, a partition in me swinging like the hips of the sea, swearing: I’m open, I’m open, I’m open. Come drown me in my own wetness. Come, hear me thank you for the ruined coastline of pulse.
Lord, if you’re honest, you know I prayed for you. Not equine with pride, rather on my knees: alert to the scold of my own virginity, deribboning, unboning my purity as original myth. One of these things does not exist, hymen or hysteria. Test which.
I could tell you I love you as the virgin loves, or I could bring you the flanks of the horse, blood ready and whistling.
Dowry for a Christian Wife
There is a suitcase swimming in your blood older than the cane farm.
Triple-latched, the giant brass buckle twists open to let kala pani seep through.
Your people packed themselves in it. They stepped in with no dowries, with orhnis thin as hunger.
The problem is that you don’t know how to carry tears on your back. The problem is that there is nowhere to hoard the suitcase.
Your people couldn’t know how the island would fight them for their own deaths. They didn’t think to ask permission to be burned.
After the funerals, after the burnings of your four grandparents,
the cardinal points of Fyzabad, Las Lomas, Cedros and Chaguanas crumble inward, a boneyard that forgets.
On the day you marry your wife, you surrender her the suitcase, spilling blood and kala pani on the raw silk of her red sari.
She reaches for your hairline with sindoor, vermillion and chaste. She soothes her name into your brow, sets the suitcase between you, home.
-- Shivanee Ramlochan is a Trinidadian writer and critic. She works for the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, the Anglophone Caribbean’s largest literary festival, as well as Paper Based Bookshop, Trinidad and Tobago’s oldest independent Caribbean specialty bookseller. Shivanee is the Book Review Editor for Caribbean Beat Magazine, and the Assistant Editor of The Caribbean Review of Books. She was the runner-up in the 2014 Small Axe Literary Competition for Poetry, and was shortlisted for the 2015 Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize. Her first book of poems, Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting, was published by PeepalTree Press on October 3rd, 2017.