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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