Love Letter to Nassau

Dear Nassau,

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 to 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. And for deep faith dressed in grandeur to sing Hallelujah with God on Sunday morning.

August 2017 2017-07-20 008

Thank you for devouring baked macaroni, peas and rice, and conch fritters. For trees that bear golden mangoes, coconuts, and kinips. Thank you for the fish head stew and conch salad that 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—a twisted hail to the Queen and wealth built on the backs of those more deserving. Thanks to the defiant who climbed Collins Wall because they knew people were not 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 your kisses and broken hearts. Thank you for jitney rides and gambling on the miracle of the last quarter in the bottom of my shoe. Thank you for daughters with curls proving I did something worthwhile.

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 cannot be buried. Thank you for what family is and is not and the dysfunctional entanglements too entrenched to undo the 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 dressed in 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 blues too numerous to count. Thanks to lightning strikes and torrential rains, they have no choice but to follow. For sunburns, humidity, and the healing power of the ocean. Time and again, sand fell between my fingers as I searched for delicate unbroken shells.

You give 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 you behind-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.

Here are some links to some of the places I reference in, “Love Letter To Nassau”

Graycliff Mansion – https://www.nassauparadiseisland.com/five-fun-facts-about-graycliff#:~:text=Five%20Fun%20Facts%20About%20Graycliff.%201%20Graycliff%20was,spot.%205%20Graycliff%20was%20home%20to%20royalty.%20

Collins Wall – https://www.uncommoncaribbean.com/nassau/uncommon-attraction-controversial-collins-wall-nassau/#:~:text=Well%2C%20in%20Nassau%20there%E2%80%99s%20an%20old%20wall%20that,Depression%20by%20a%20man%20named%20Ralph%20G.%20Collins.

The Native Arawaks – https://www.bahamas.com/our-history

Junkanoo Celebration – https://www.trubahamianfoodtours.com/bahamas-special-events-and-festivals/junkanoo/#:~:text=Prior%20to%20the%20Abolition%20of%20Slavery%20under%20British,most%20unique%20and%20renowned%20festivals%20in%20The%20Caribbean%21

Clifton Heritage Park – https://cliftonheritage.net/about-park/park-history and https://www.bahamas.com/plan-your-trip/things-to-do/clifton-heritage-national-park

Bahamian Food – https://www.bahamasfoodguide.com/dishes/

The Reef Restaurant – We always eat here as often as we can when we visit! https://www.bahamaslocal.com/showlisting/2457/The_Reef_Restaurant.html

Adopting a “Potcake” Dog https://www.nassauyachthaven.com/blog/adopt-a-potcake

What is a “Potcake” Dog – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potcake_dog

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Katie Greenmun says:

    Teacher Teresa (It’s really hard not to call you Teacher Teresa, is that OK?)

    You knock my socks off. I love reading your poetry! Did you travel to Nassau this summer? I am soo jealous! We would love to have you guys over for dinner sometime if you have the time. I know the Holiday Season is crazy but maybe we can fit something in? We would love to catch up with you! Hope you had a fun Halloween. Here are the boys trying to sit still for a picture last night, too wiggly to look at the camera:-)

    Best Regards,

    Katie Greenmun Building Design Services katiegreenmun@gmail.com 206-910-3972

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi,
      YES, There is a lot worse things I can be called besides Teacher Teresa!
      We did travel back to Nassau this summer to celebrate Alyssa’s college graduation. The seed for the poem began during that trip. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my writing. It means so much to me.
      We’d love to come over for dinner and catch up. For some reason I couldn’t see the picture you sent. Maybe you could text it to me? I bet your boys are getting so grown up. Time tends to do that!
      Teresa Bain

      Like

  2. I really appreciate that I had time to spend in Nassau this summer. Your writing brings it all back.

    Like

  3. Joe OMalley says:

    Thanks Teresa. This is another beautifully written piece full of thoughtful moments and tender care.

    Joe

    On Wed, Nov 1, 2017 at 6:42 AM, Teresa Renee Bain wrote:

    > teresareneebain posted: “Dear Nassau, 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” >

    Like

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read it. I appreciate it!

      Like

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