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A Valerie Bloom reading is an uplifting experience, one that can coax even a shy British poetry...
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We don' have a Springtime like some folk
Who live in dem colder place,
but we have a time when de soft rain come,
an' tease open de seedcase
o' de poincianna and de trumpet tree,
An' whisper to de young cane to wake
when de guangu blossom is pink an' white
powder-puff, prettying up de earth face.
But not Spring like in dem colder place.
We no have no Summer when Springtime done,
no change o' season as such,
but we have a time when de asphalt bubble
in de hot sun, when yuh dare not touch
de tarmac wid yuh barefoot; when de heat is
a dancin' dervish who wi' grab yuh
an' spin yuh till de sweat is a river flowin' down,
an' yuh too tired fe de anything much.
But we don' have a summer as such.
We no have an Autumn like Europe,
we don' have de American Fall,
but dere is a time when de flame tree in the Forest
light de woodland like a fireball,
when de blue mahoe leaf dem turn bright bronze,
de almond look like it wearing henna,
when de nightfall flicker wid peeni-wallie,
an' grasshopper an' tree-frog call
to de moon. But we don' have Autumn nor Fall.
We don' have no winter wid snow an' sleet,
an ice like a carpet pon de grung,
but we have a time when de fee-fee twist
purple an' white up de road bank, an' young
tangerine an' ugli fruit smell an' yellow in
de gentle sun; when de cool breeze finger
draw de sweater round de shoulder,
an de sorrel tas'e tart pon de tongue.
But no ice like a carpet pon de grung.
We don't have de four season dem,
Summer, Winter, Autumn an' Spring,
but de dry season wid the noisy bees
an' de shrill call o' de cling-cling,
an' de sun turnin' de sea into a hot bath,
an' de grass bake so dat it crackle like parchment
under yuh foot; when de beach dem crowded
wid folk cooling off; de season when mango is king.
But not Summer, Winter, Autumn an' Spring.
No, we don't have four different season,
just two, de wet an' de dry,
an' in de rainy season de storm cloud dem
cover over de face o' de sky,
de road an' de river dem lose dem bank,
an' de hurricane dem sometimes come callin'
fe borrow de roof an' fe tear up de tree dem
like paper. But de earth always revive by an' by,
in de two season, de wet an' de dry.
from The World is Sweet (Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2000), copyright © Valerie Bloom 2000, used by permission of the author
Valerie Bloom Reading from her Poems