Image by Denis Valentine

The Road of the Dread

Lorna Goodison


The Road of the Dread

Lorna Goodison


The Road of the Dread

The Road of the Dread

That dey road no pave
like any other black-face road
it have no definite color
and it fence two side
with live barbwire.

And no look fi no milepost
fi measure yu walking
and no tek no stone as
dead or familiar.

For some time you pass a ting
you know as...call it stone again
and is a snake already fi squeeze yu
kill yu
or is a dead man tek him
possessions tease yu.
Then the place dem yu feel
is resting place because time
before that yu welcome like rain,
go dey again?
bad dawg, bad face tun fi drive yu underground
wey yu no have no light fi walk
wey yu find sey that many yu meet who sey
them understand
is only from dem mouth dem talk.
One good ting though, that same treatment
mek yu walk untold distance
for to continue yu have fe walk far
away from the wicked.

Pan dis same road ya sista
sometime yu drink yu salt sweat fi water
for yu sure sey least dat no pisen,
and bread? yu picture it and chew it accordingly
and some time yu surprise fi know how dat full
man belly.

Some day no have no definite color
no beginning and no ending, it just name day
or night as how yu feel fi call it.

Den why tread it brother?
well mek I tell yu bout the day dem
when the father send some little bird
that swallow flute fi trill me
and when him instruct the sun fi smile pan me first.
And the sky calm like sea when it sleep
and a breeze like a laugh follow mi.
Or the man find a stream that pure like a baby mind
and the water ease down yu throat
and quiet yu inside.

And better still when yu meet another traveler
who have flour and yu have water and man and man
just make bread together.
And dem time dey the road run straight and sure
like a young horse that can't tire
and yu catch a glimpse of the end
through the water in yu eye
I wont tell you what I spy
but is fi dat alone I tread this road.


'The Road of the Dread' from Tamarind Season (Institute of Jamaica, 1980) and Guinea Woman: New and Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2000), © Lorna Goodison 1980, used by permission of the author.

Books & cds by Lorna Goodison