I read this poem with an immense connection while I was in high school. I read it as an absolute. Lorna spoke to my soul…
For My Mother (May I Inherit Half Her Strength)
My mother loved my father
I write this as an absolute
in this my thirtieth year
the year to discard absolutes
he appeared, her fate disguised,
as a sunday player in a cricket match,
he had ridden from a country
one hundred miles south of hers.
She tells me he dressed the part,
visiting dandy, maroon blazer,
cream serge pants, seam like razor
and the beret and the two-tone shoes.
My father stopped to speak to her sister,
till he looked and saw her by the oleander,
sure in the kingdom of my blue-eyed grandmother.
He never played the cricket match that day.
He wooed her with words and he won her.
He had nothing but words to woo her,
on a visit to distant Kingston he wrote,
“I stood on the corner of King Street and looked,
and not one woman in that town was lovely as you.”
My mother was a child of the petite bourgeoisie
studying to be a teacher, she oiled her hands
to hold pens.
My father barely knew his father, his mother died young,
he was a boy who grew with his granny.
My mother’s trousseau came by steamer through the snows
where her sisters Albertha of the cheekbones and the
perennial Rose, combed Jewlit backstreets with French-
turned names for Doris’s wedding things.
Such a wedding Harvey River, Hanover, had never seen.
Who anywhere had seen a veil fifteen chantilly yards long?
and a crepe de chine dress with inlets of silk godettes
and a neck-line clasped with jeweled pins!
And on her wedding day she wept. For it was a brazen bride in those days
and her bouquet looked for the world like a sheaf of wheat
against the unknown of her belly,
a sheaf of wheat backed by maidenhair fern, representing Harvey River
her face washed by something other than river water.
My father made one assertive move, he took the imported cherub down
from the heights of the cake and dropped it in the soft territory
between her breasts…and she cried.
When I came to know my mother many years later, I knew her as the figure
who sat at the first thing I learned to read: “SINGER,” and she breast-fed
my brother while she sewed; and she taught us to read while she sewed and
she sat in judgment over all our disputes as she sewed.
She could work miracles, she would make a garment from a square of cloth
in a span that defied time. Or feed twenty people on a stew made from
fallen-from-the-head cabbage leaves and a carrot and a cho-cho and a palmful
And she rose early and sent us clean into the world and she went to bed in
the dark, for my mother came in always last.
There is a place somewhere where my mother never took the younger ones
a country where my father with the always smile
my father whom all women loved, who had the perpetual quality of wonder
given only to a child…hurt his bride.
Even at his death there was this “Friend” who stood by her side,
but my mother is adamant that that has no place in the memory of
When he died, she sewed dark dresses for the women amongst us
and she summoned the walk, straight-backed, that she gave to us
and buried him dry-eyed.
Just that morning, weeks after,
she stood delivering bananas from their skin
singing in that flat hill country voice
she fell down a note to the realization that she did
not have to be brave, just this once,
and she cried.
For her hands grown coarse with raising nine children
for her body for twenty years permanently fat
for the time she pawned her machine for my sister’s
Senior Cambridge fees
and for the pain she bore with the eyes of a queen
and she cried also because she loved him.
This was when it dawned on me why my mother was the way she was. She was angry and sought vengeance. After this poem, I took every lashing (verbal and physical) in silence. I could not cry anymore because I understood her anger. How else could she get the vengeance she deserved. My father is a coward, selfish, bastard and he broke her heart. Too bad, I looked exactly like him. I was a perpetual reminder of her youthful mistake. To fall for a coward, broken boy.
You see, my father is an intelligent man. Strong, handsome and charming. The perfect recipe for psychopathy. And he is…a high functioning psychopath with bouts of paranoid schizophrenia (disclaimer: this is not a professional diagnoses.This is my personal opinion as a graduate with a BSc. in Psychology). Now, that’s a whole other story (I am currently writing a self-therapy childhood biography entitled – ‘Just a little girl with Daddy Issues’).
I have decided it’s time I let go of my anger and bitterness towards my parents as it has greatly limited me in life. I was always afraid to shine too bright in school because I would go home to an ungrateful mother who would say “Yuh too nuff! Anuh every pan knock yu fi dance” , or “Everyday yuh cock up in ya a read, galang guh look sumu fi do!” (which was followed by her confiscating whichever book I was reading at the time. Never to return it). When I dared to practice to speak Standard English at home, I was reprimanded with “Yuh think yuh betta dan everibodi eh?” or “Stop di noise a mi head man, yuh chat to much”. I was even more daring when I decided to set the table for Sunday dinner. lol. Nuff mi nuff fi true! To be honest, I can’t remember what verbal assault I got for that one but mind you, I never dared to set the table again and I practiced Standard English quietly to myself.
My mother would slap me in the face real hard when I dared to tell her the truth. How dare me tell my mother when she was wrong for calling me a “dutty gyal” for no apparent reason?? How dare me tell her not to verbally assault my mentally retarded little cousin because it will only make it worst?? Who did this little bright eyed girl think she was? haha. Point is:
I started doing everything in school except school work. Whatever I could do to stay away from home I got involved in (well of course these were school related clubs and societies). I did not like people – I still don’t , so I never had many friends. I had a million and one associates though. I used to fight anyone who dared to disrespect or threaten me as I was always so angry. Not the biggest kid on the block, so I was a soft target, until they realized that I may not be as strong as they are but I will never back down from a fight nor will I give up and allow you to win. Physically, I was weaker, but mentally, I had to be tough.
I digress. I write this lengthy piece to say to my mother; I am sorry for kicking you when you were down. I am sorry for picking fights with a wounded soldier. I am sorry that we both still love my coward of a father. I am sorry that I said the truth in such a harsh manner. I recall very well that you always used to say “Kaysha, anuh wah yuh seh, a how yuh seh it.” I really didn’t understand until a few months ago when I took a job at Sutherland Global Services and my team manager would say “Imani, you have the correct information but you are too blunt and apathetic”. Truth be told, that is my nature.
But in my 21st year, I concede. I agree now that mom, you were right.
I can say the truth without being such a cold bitch about it. 😔 I was wrong for poking your wounds all these years instead of trying to help you up. Unfortunately then, I did not understand genetics as well as I do now. Today, I can say that I too fit the bill of being a Psychopath but I understand that acting on my natural impulse will land me in jail and hell. So to God be the Glory! Had I not been introduced to Jesus as a child I would have killed my parents, my siblings and myself many years ago. As I just thought it was stupid to live such a miserable life. But I believe in the bible and that’s how I survived a grim childhood. I trusted God that he will reward the faithful stewards. I believe that I should love my neighbour as myself and that’s how I learnt to love people (even though I still believe we are a very self serving and inhumane specie). I love others, simply because Christ loves me and he instructed me to. I see people the way he sees me – A potential. I look at the heart and not the outward man. I believe Psalms 139:14.
To my mother: Sonia Maulvia Caanan Lindo.
I am truly sorry for the years of verbal and emotional abuse that I inflicted upon you.
You mean the world to me and I prefer not to live without you.
I am doing it for you. You have been my motivation all these years. I have prayed for your strength for years. I am achieving success in this life for US. It really is not just for me. Honestly, I am too lazy. I forced myself to finish my degree just for you. I wanted you to be proud. I didn’t do too much for fear that you would resent me and so I just got an Upper Second Class. I tried my very best not to shine too bright…not to dance to every pan…not to read too much (even though the UWI had the audacity to tell me to read for my degree 😄) I read just enough, I refused to pull all nighters, or complete all my assignments…I did just enough…just for you.
I was furious when you dared to say to me on my day…our day…”Mi naw wait pan nuh gyal! Mi a guh a mi yard!” Had I continued to run in the rain on my graduation morning to meet you after you were wrong for coming off the bus before I told you to, I would I have killed you right there on Barbican road. Instead, I prayed and I ran in the opposite direction with all my might. I ran! because the scripture says;
Exodus 20:12 ESV
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
1 Peter 5:8-9
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
I am letting go….
I have forgiven you. For my sake and yours. I have let all the hurt go…In Jesus’ name.
I love you mom 💞