The Carpenter Brings Lily Home (1924)
On Holy Saturday, Eddie leaned the ladder
against the house to prove the roof from leaks.
He tested all the walls for chinks and cracks,
oiled all the hinges, painted every shutter.
The blue wood snapped the white and made it glitter
in April's sun. His mother baffled cakes,
whipped whites of egg and sugar into peaks,
dropped hard-earned almond essence into batter
and sang it into flavour. She snipped her knife
through thyme, sweet onion, pepper; boiled down peas
and contemplated welcoming this Lily:
a Bain Town daughter wedding Eddie, holy
as this holiday, and fresh as days
soft-born from misty mornings--this near-white wife.
by Nicolette Bethel
Nicolette Bethel was born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas, where she currently resides. She has lived, studied and worked in the UK and Canada, and is now apprenticed to the Government for her sins and others'. She is a playwright, a poet, a fiction writer and an anthropologist, and her work has been published in a variety of places, including The Caribbean Writer, Calabash, Eclectica, Trespass Magazine, The American Poetry Journal (forthcoming), The Avatar Review (forthcoming), and numerous local and regional collections.
Self-Portrait, Age Ten
After our fifth-grade teacher had us draw
pictures of ourselves, which she displayed
on the wall, I glowed with pleasure when I saw
that mine was nearest the truth. I had conveyed
my sleeveless shirt and pleated skirt, brown eyes
and yellow hair, of course, but best of all,
the parts were roughly of the proper size,
the head and limbs not overlarge nor small.
But when I saw Elizabeth's sketch, I froze,
dismayed. Her head was larger than her body,
with huge blue eyes, a rosebud mouth, no nose,
small feet, and a wasp waist. She looked a beauty
and I looked like a chunky child. I burned,
stung by this vision out of all proportion,
half baby and half Barbie. How had she learned
to draw like that? Could beauty be distortion?
Was it her mom, the hairdresser, who'd taught her?
Mine was a chemist. Fighting off the blues,
I studied the techniques I'd never use--
not lovely but precise, my mother's daughter.
by Susan McLean
Susan McLean is an English professor at Southwest Minnesota State
University. Her poems have appeared in Light Quarterly, The Lyric,
Mezzo Cammin, and elsewhere.