Montego Bay


I’m dancing barefoot, toes
digging into the sand, for you.
You’re locked in small talk
with a Rasta lady but your eyes
are facing my direction, perhaps
looking out to sea, trailing the water’s
silver quilt for a song or signs of rain.
I imagine it is me you find
washed up like a pirate’s treasure,
rolling my hips, rubbing the sweat
on my neck, the top of my breasts in slow,
small circles, marking time with Marley
when a friend says, “You don’t wine to Bob.”
But Bob would understand
what a woman has to do to hold a man
in this one room of sea and sky.

Each semaphore is for your unraveling.
This sped-up gyration for the thirst
in your eyes; this slowed-down dip
and push back, roll and press forward
for the quiver in your lips,
their plumpness, their secrets, their grasp
on my nipple; this sideway rock and slither
for the girth of your hands; this slow skank backward
and forward for the smooth of your skin.

But it is not enough.
You’ll remember your obligations: a wife
to return to, school fees to be paid, the high light
bill, a roof in need of repair, an ailing father,
the overgrown lawn, church on Sunday.
You’ll turn your back and I’ll continue to dance.

first published in Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, No 32, July 2010 (Duke University Press, on behalf of Small Axe, Inc), © Tanya Shirley 2010, used by permission of the author.

Tanya Shirley in the Poetry Store

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.