"Sunday Friends" by Cynthia James
On this ill May day trestles are laid, sausages sizzle and split
there is bread, baked beans and Quiche Lorraine
faith, hope and charity displayed;
but stick a pin -
my grief’s chaptered in the pages of the ages
anthologized, googly-fied on countless web pages,
put to bed; we’re safe
“Come sit with us,” they say, and let me listen to them talk
offer more bread, more sausage; “Eat,” they say; pressing
a doggie bag when I’m full; “Or we’ll have to throw it out.”
to them I’m either a gang-raped Rwandan, an
earthquake Haitian or a refugee Côte D’Ivoirian.
My specifics, the backseat crush of a Curepe PH- taxi
in the ripening armpit of a macomère; what’s the difference
my Monday- Wednesday-Friday friends,
work irregular hours; Sundays on Sundays off;
shifters scanning subway schedules strapped to poles:
weather watchers, PSW day and night-care givers,
an open Bible here, Asian or Arabic hieroglyphics there,
“It’s cold today!” “Did the 23 go up?”
“I just missed it; the driver saw me but he didn’t stop.”
or else silence ...
i-Pod mantras stream through womb-shaped wires
avoiding common words in this tired old experience;
a stilted ESL confounds betrayal of what
we wouldn’t know how to, or are too afraid to say;
So on this ill May Day I break bread with my Sunday friends
I pray with, sing with, laugh with, even trust enough to tell my sins;
but stick a pin -
for the Knights of Columbus have set the tables
my servers, their sisters, the charitable daughters of Isabelle:
my great- great- great- grandmother must be turning in her grave.
“Sunday Friends” by Cynthia James.
About Cynthia James:
Cynthia James is a Trinidadian, living for the past 3 years in Toronto. She writes poetry and fiction and her work can be found in publications such as Callaloo, Caribbean Writer and The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse.