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 


is different. 




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 


compare trainers, 

    mock a friend too scared 

to speak             to a girl. 

Vipers with truncheons and badges 

    see warm-bloodied Black boys as food. 


Everything goes 

    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.

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