St. Paul’s Festival
The string section of Starvue’s ‘Body Fusion’ fills the air
like a collapsing canopy of summer rain.
I suspect the speakers stacked off Thomas Street
are Toyboy VIP. We wade
into the centre of the constellations, where everyone
wants to dance, scared to be the first.
Bellies drunk from the sun’s heat, a residue of glow
sits on our skin. We twirl, hold hands,
circle each other the way heavenly bodies and girls
on a dance floor do. A paving slab dance floor,
sacred circle of women’s handbags and summer jackets,
our wings extended, eyes closed, spinning,
we become mother figures for white girls from Clifton
scared of this part of town on any other day,
and I would be offended by them asking
if I sold weed on any other day, but today
Dressed like extras from a Puma Jamaica campaign,
we roam streets like a pack of gazelles
lost in the lines of Arabic love poetry.
Night falls. Beenie Man blares from Campbell Street.
On a garden wall, we hold polystyrene boxes the colour
of stars, filled with jerk and festival, one-handed,
trying to locate Orion’s belt with the other.
They stalk Black boys.
unaware, those boys
mock a friend too scared
to speak to a girl.
Vipers with truncheons and badges
see warm-bloodied Black boys as food.
blank, more void
than black holes.
I find myself spitting bars
in faces about this
being our ends Babylon
must burn, and we fought
for these streets,
Yashima so fired
she becomes comet
and blue flame.
Coconut from the gizzada stuck in our teeth,
we journey home, to lie on a single bed
pretending we will not fall asleep.
still looking at stars.
St Paul’s Festival - from That Day She’ll Proclaim Her Chronicles (Burning Eye Books, 2021), © Muneera Pilgrim 2021, used by permission of the author.