Excerpt from "de book of Mary" by Pamela Mordecai
JESUS TAKES LEAVE OF MARY AND GOES INTO THE DESERT
Plenty hard to believe my son turn
thirty dis winter season just gone!
Not dat me never watch
every minute, each day, as him grow.
But is like you see and you don’t notice,
and den, all of a sudden dis big
somebody hold you face in him hand
kiss you on you forehead,
say, “Mums, I going now.”
Never mind how much time
I protest and ask why him must go
off alone to a place wid no water, no food,
not a green thing to lift him spirit...
“Mums,” him say “why I would
leave dis house, you and Gran, best cook food
in dis town, my sistren and bredren,
and de whole family, plus de woodworking, too,
all I love, if it was up to me?”
I breathe deep, gaze on him
from him head to him toe, one last time.
“See three loaf of new bread I just bake
in dat bag, and a wineskin your gran
send wid Judith daughter dis morning.
She say, send, tell her when you going.
“I going stop by de yard
as I leaving, to tell Gran goodbye.
Big thanks for de eats and de drink,
but you know my food in de wild
going be fasting and prayer, my Mums.
I sure you don’t want my Papa up so...”
and him turn him eye up to de sky,
“to vex wid me right as I start out?”
“Why you can’t pray here, son?
I will keep food and drink far from you.
I will honour your fast. Is a thing I do for
Joseph plenty times when him was still wid us.”
Him bend down and kiss me,
say, “Mums, dis not de worst.
Me must get ready for some dread things.”
When I go to answer, him put one finger on
my lip. “Hush, Mums,” him repeat,
“believe me, if de choosing was mine
I would stay.”
And him look round de room,
touch de big water jug, scuff de rug
wid him foot, take him staff
and walk through de door –
never turn him head round to look back.
From de book of Mary
About Pamela Mordecai
Pamela ('Pam') Mordecai’s previous collections of poetry include Journey Poem (1989); de Man, a performance poem (1995); Certifiable (2001); The True Blue of Islands (2005), and Subversive Sonnets (2012). de book of Mary, from which “Jesus Takes Leave of Mary and Goes into the Desert” comes, will appear in fall, 2015. In 2006 she published Pink Icing, a collection of short stories; her first novel, Red Jacket, appeared in February, 2015. She has edited and co-edited ground-breaking anthologies of Caribbean writing including Jamaica Woman (1980, 1985, with Mervyn Morris); From Our Yard: Jamaican Poetry since Independence (1987); Her True-True Name: An Anthology of Women's Writing from the Caribbean (1989, with Betty Wilson) and Calling Cards: New Poetry from Caribbean/ Canadian Women (2005). Her play, El Numero Uno had its world premiere at the Loraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People in Toronto in 2010. In spring 2014, she was a fellow at the prestigious Yaddo artists' community in upstate New York yaddo.org. Pam and her family immigrated to Canada in 1994. She lives with her husband, Martin, in Kitchener, Ontario.