(For Anthony McNeill on All Saints' Day) by Jennifer Rahim
To tell you the truth,
I’ve been thinking about Tony,
if he would permit that familiarity.
I met only his verse.
I’ve been thinking poetry –
it should always be brave
or else it cannot speak, and his was,
the way true courage is:
an amity with what we fear –
not crude disclosure, that bogus bravado
of those too weak to suffer well.
No, courage is never that cheap.
It both upbraids and heals us –
makes the faithless see ghosts
in the face of what is real;
yet, waits like love while we lament
what we hope dead, only so we
may never have to be brave, –
if that means an apprenticeship
to the sufferer’s beat.
I’ve been thinking of you, Tony,
and the self your lines vested
in a shining that strikes blind
our well-managed lives,
sends us stumbling in-
sight – that was your calling
to redeem us with. Tony,
I have been looking, this day,
for your light among the saints.
© Jennifer Rahim, 2011
Jennifer Rahim is Trinidadian. She is a Senior Lecturer in Literature in the Department of Liberal Arts at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. Her essays on Caribbean literature have appeared in MaComere, The Journal of West Indian Literature, Small Axe, Anthurium and BIM. She edited, with Barbara Lalla, Beyond Borders: Cross Culturalism and the Caribbean Canon (UWI Press 2009) and Created in the West Indies: Caribbean Perspectives on V.S. Naipaul (Ian Randle, 2010). Her poetry collections include: Between the Fence and the Forest (Peepal Tree Press, 2002), Approaching Sabbaths (Peepal Tree Press, 2009) and Redemption Rain (TSAR, 2011). She has one collection of short stories, Songster and Other Stories (Peepal Tree Press, 2007). Approaching Sabbaths was awarded a Casa de las Américas Prize in 2010.