"Sunday Friends" by Cynthia James


Sunday Friends

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.

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