Here is a poem from a young Jamaican poet, and friend, Ann-Margaret Lim. I chose the title poem from her first published book of poetry, “The Festival of Wild Orchid,” published by Peepal Tree Press. I chose it because it expresses the fierce spirit of a Jamaican woman – not a hero, just a strong woman. There are many heroes out there, and none of them have medals pinned on their chests.
It was death
riding the ocean in a tomb of bodies;
so she howled with an ancestor-waking howl
to her grandmother spirit in the trees, who,
stripped bare, begged the West Indies
to fit her granddaughter with wild orchid
leaves and the hardiness of a tree.
A tree stands bare, naked
like the first African woman
to stand on this island,
with a swelling ocean for a tongue
and a cry
that stripped the trees of all the leaves.
It is the Festival of the Wild Orchid.
I hope that all Jamaicans celebrated National Heroes Day in a thoughtful manner. To me, this poem contains more of the essence of heroism than speeches, medals and awards. We are too fond of those. More on this topic tomorrow…
(Jamaican women write! petchary.wordpress.com)
(The joy – and the business – of writing. petchary.wordpress.com)
(Abeng: a poem for National Heroes Day 2011. petchary.wordpress.com)
(Outstanding Jamaicans honored on Heroes Day: Jamaica Gleaner)