Thank you for your Junkanoo drums vibrating deep into my bones. For Straw Market bartering, beaded braids, drunken tourists and cruise ships that line your harbor. Does it bother you they rarely ask to see all of you?
Thank you for people that work hard but laugh harder whose words flow in easy island rhythm. Thank you for pastel shacks with fences built of discarded palettes and dogs roaming for scraps of a home. For deep faith dressed in grandeur to sing Hallelujah with God on Sunday morning.
Thank you for devouring baked macaroni, peas and rice and conch fritters. For trees that bear golden mangoes, coconuts and kinips. Thank you for fish head stew and conch salad I was too cowardly to try. Thanks for sweet guava duff and squelching my thirst with Goombay Punch drunk from a straw.
Thank you for the Lucayans and Arawaks and the curse of Columbus. How wise you are to preserve your slave plantations so we can’t pretend it wasn’t real. Hail to the Queen and wealth built on backs of those more deserving. Thanks to the defiant who climbed Collins Wall because people weren’t meant to be kept out. You took root in walls of hardened coral and bloomed flowers vibrant with survival.
Thank you for the love of a shoe shining boy running towards his dreams. You gave him to me and selfishly I never gave him back. Thank you for kisses and broken hearts. Thank you for jitney rides and gambling on the miracle of the last quarter in the bottom of your shoe. Thank you for daughters with curls proving I did something that mattered.
Thank you for the mystery of pride and secrets held close. Thank you for cancer reminding me to live and two honks at the Eastern Wall because love will not be buried. Thank you for what family is and is not and the irrelevance of time. For dysfunction, entanglements too entrenched to untangle and silence spanning generations.
Thank you for heated pools that once upon a time beyond broke I could only spy glimpses of behind gated walls. Thank you for the majestic grounds of Graycliff which hold the dank smell of those wearing jackets and ties to dine on steamed grouper while smoking expensive cigars. You showed me where you begin is not necessarily where you will end.
Thank you for beaches churned by timeless waves and your sea with tones of blue too numerous to count. Thanks to cruel lightening strikes and torrential rains that have no choice but to follow. For sunburns, humidity, sweat and the healing power of the ocean. Time and again sand fell between my fingers as I searched for delicate unbroken shells.
You gave so much. Is that your lineage to again and again offer yourself up? I hope I have repaid with some tenderness and care. Many it seems leave behind a debt riddled with garbage, broken glass and neglect? You and your island sisters will be here long after we are gone. And then I like to imagine you quietly reclaim yourself in all the splendor and beauty you are and always have been.