Surge 9

I went back to my mother’s kitchen: peas was soaking on the

stove and a lettuce was uncurling on the counter. A blue plastic

bag filled with fish was deflating. One of the eyes was pressed

against the side of the bag and seemed to be the only one that

noticed me. This kitchen:

 

the crack in the window; the spice rack with over a hundred tiny

bottles; outside, my brother’s underwear on the line – tiny boxer

shorts in the drizzle; the fridge with a poster for bonfire night

just gone, and a postcard from our aunty in Antigua, and a vase

of plastic flowers on top – ultra-violet blue yellow purple making

the green of the leaves seem quite improbable; beside it a small

shelf peopled by Erna Brodber, Gus John; the door to the

bathroom:

 

I know that the floor is cold; there are three coiled hairs in the

sink; a streak of toothpaste where my brother spits and never

washes it out; I know that the toilet seat is cracked; I know what

it’s like to come in here when it’s dark outside and turn the taps

and feel the whole house warming up; the gradual breath the

house takes through the wallpaper, the carpet, the timber, the

kettle, the dutch pot, the kippers sparking in oil, the television,

the toaster, the paraffin heater, and the first ray unencumbered

by the clouds that spreads its rose palm on the kitchen window:

 

I will be that for my brother and mother. I will be light touching

their faces as she guts the fish, drains the peas.

extract from the early version of ‘Surge’ published in Beacon of Hope (New Beacon Books, 2016), copyright © Jay Bernard 2016, used by permission of the author and the George Padmore Institute

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