August 31, 2011

"Pelicans at Evening" by Jennifer Rahim

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Pelicans at Evening

(for Pat Bishop)

as many as seven,
steadfast as pointers
press heaven,
push east along Toco’s
unquiet run of coast.

News comes here
as the beat
of ample wings
holds the eye true
 to evening’s fall.

Now, –

when an ocean’s peace
is gathered into beaks
that could deliver
the miracle of a child,

I hear you are gone.

And what is this word
bequeathed us
as you pass into earth ? –

Our souls full yet
with every
and fragile
you shepherded to birth –
not one
or unformed sound
left  unhoused.

So Miss B., 
what is this nothing
as you go your way
to Mucurapo?

What parting gift –
your baton’s final call? ‒
Our tongues stilled,
grief left broke,
for your wanting
no more
than servant’s pay,
wanting too
a sunflower’s witness
at the close
of your giving days.

In this crude season
of curfew 
from ourselves,
your cowbell’s
chosen metre
is perfect song, you
knowing  well
silence earned strikes
the purest note,
speaks clearest,
being free
of all regard ,
being free blesses
with its own question.
So, Sister Pat,
is it that you saved
your best wine
for last?

Your passing’s ripe Art –

this holy hush
as that arcane flock journeys
routinely home.

About Pat Bishop
Pat Bishop, a business executive, painter, musician, historian, media commentator, choreographer and fashion designer, was also a renowned ethnomusicologist who, according to Dr. Selwyn Cudjoe, “sang with the Esso Tripoli in 1967; arranged music for Fonclaire, Birdsong, Skiffle Bunch and Desperadoes Steel Orchestra among other groups; conducted Trinidad All Stars, Phase II, Renegades and other steelbands; performed with Desperadoes at Carnegie Hall, New York, Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Philadelphia Academy of Music.” She also directed music for the Morne Diablo Folk Performing Company, worked with Daisy Voisin’s La Divina Pastora Parang Group and directed the Lydian Singers for the past eleven years.
She lectured History at the U.W.I. St. Augustine and Mona campuses as well as the history of art and design at the Jamaican School of the Art between 1970 and 1972


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About Jennifer Rahim

Jennifer Rahim is a Senior Lecturer in Literature in the Department of Liberal Arts, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. She is a critic, poet and short story writer. Her articles on Caribbean literature have appeared in MaComere, The Journal of West Indian Literature, Small Axe and Anthurium. She edited with Barbara Lalla a collection of Cultural Studies essays entitled, Beyond Borders: Cross Culturalism and the Caribbean Canon (UWI Press 2009).

Her creative publications include three poetry collections: Mothers Are Not the Only Linguists (1992) and Between the Fence and the Forest (2002) and Approaching Sabbaths (2009). She has one collection of short stories, Songster and Other Stories (2007). Approaching Sabbaths was awarded the 2010 Casa de las Américas Prize for best book in the category Caribbean Literature in English or Creole and has been shortlisted for the Guyana Prize for Literature.

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