February 21, 2012

"Cutting Lent" by Cynthia James

Cutting Lent

We’d cut lent, little finger hooked like chain link, 
talk for-fended; and if you couldn’t or forgot 
to hold it in, you’d face the consequences 

mouth open, jackass jawbone dropping, 
better say it safe, unsaid in the roaming mind, 
self-witness only to itself, than witless in the wind;

one day respite, thank St. Joseph;  but if you were really good, 
you did the whole forty days, Palm Sunday, Passion Week,  
waited for the hot cross buns and image of a ship-shape forming

on the hot stone of a cracked Good Friday egg. But first the ashes;
you had to hang Shrove Tuesday’s clang of cowbells on a crossed stave. 
New dispensation; carne vale; that long time Lent is here again.

© Cynthia James, February 2012

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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