Kei Miller is a Jamaican poet, novelist, essayist and blogger; he’s published nine books. His third novel, Augustown, won the 2017 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. I had quite the time – difficult but sweet -selecting a poem of his to feature today. I’ll be reading his prose as I intend a long overdue return to Caribbean Literature. Enjoy!
This Zinc Roof
This rectangle of sea; this portion
Of ripple; this conductor of midday heat;
This that the cat steps delicately on;
This that the poor of the world look up to
On humid nights, as if it were a crumpled
Heaven they could be lifted into.
God’s mansion is made of many-coloured zinc,
Like a balmyard I once went to, Peace
And Love written across its breadth.
This clanging of feet and boots,
Men running from Babylon whose guns
Are drawn against the small measure
Of their lives; this galvanised sheet; this
Corrugated iron. The road to hell is fenced
On each side with zinc —
Just see Dawn Scott’s installation,
A Cultural Object, its circles of zinc
Like the flight path of johncrows.
The American penny is made from zinc,
Coated with copper, but still enough zinc
That a man who swallowed 425 coins died.
This that poisons us; this that holds
Its nails like a crucified Christ, but only
For a little while. It rises with the hurricane,
Sails in the wind, a flying guillotine.
This, a plate for our severed heads;
This that sprinkles rust
Over our sleep like obeah;
This that covers us; this that chokes us;
This, the only roof we could afford.
——– by Kei Miller