I fear it's the same as in the old days
Do Jamaican parents still delight in terrorizing their children?
I'd like to forgive it
to say that my mother and her siblings were country folk
so as they laughed like idiots
at making their children tremble in fear
they were ignorant
that they were building a cavern of fear in our souls.
It's hard, though.
I can forgive the lies they told.
Yes, they were conscienceless in the way they
told self-serving stories to keep their children in line.
I can forgive that.
I can forgive their beatings
and the belts they named:
Stinger with its metal-tip,
Scorpion with its cruel sting.
I can forgive that,
because they were country folks
and whuppin was what they did cause they loved you
an wanted to set you on the right path.
But the fear and trembling I strive to forgive.
Because there was spite in their cruel power
when they told us of cruel ghosts inhabiting the dark
when they told us what happened to little girls
who do not listen to their mothers and who did not wipe their hands properly
because they had such petty joy in creating terror in us,
because surely there was some other way to make themselves powerful in their own eyes --
other than stampeding kids' hearts.
Because even now the cavern of fear they built inside me
is still operational
when the phone rings
when the mailman comes
when I feel some sudden change in my body.
Because these are seeds
my mother, aunts, and uncles planted in me
and all that terror
all that fear
is still ingrained
and ever blossoming in me.