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…
https://petchary.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/jamaican-women-write/ (Jamaican women write! petchary.wordpress.com)
https://petchary.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/the-joy-and-the-business-of-writing/ (The joy – and the business – of writing. petchary.wordpress.com)
https://petchary.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/abeng-a-poem-for-national-heroes-day/ (Abeng: a poem for National Heroes Day 2011. petchary.wordpress.com)
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=40549 (Outstanding Jamaicans honored on Heroes Day: Jamaica Gleaner)