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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
Boxing Day in colonial Jamaica

Submitted: December 26, 2007

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Submitted: December 26, 2007



One Colonial Day

Tin whistles, drums and tambourines
in the distance
signal a pseudo Mardi Gras -
approaching sounds and colours -
a post-Christmas celebration.
Tourists flock their balconies at Tower Isle,
cameras at the ready,
to watch the John Canoes
come dancing down the road.
Round the bend and up the hotel carriageway
flows the twirling throng.
Decked in crepe and calico,
the harlequin prancers display
their papier-mâché headdress
in black, red, green, blue and yellow:
rockets, globes, and cockerel, and naturally –

Dance they until
thruppence and shillings fly
from happy tourists who think
this cultural mockery
is historical substance.
But still a pretty scene it makes,
and tin whistles have, of their own,
a cheerful, brassy charm.

On move the weary dancers now –
their bus is waiting round the bend -
other hotels to visit,
their naïve tourists entertain.
And now it will be quiet until afternoon.

In the lounge I find a chair and read
the Christmas present my father gave –
a newly printed work on the Nazi-zeit. +
At two hundred and thirty-seven pages in,
a man about my father’s age walks by,
stops and stares
at child with weighty tome,
sits and starts a conversation.
His Honour now –
then Prosecutor at Nuremberg - ++
he shares with me
the reality behind historian’s words.

And this discussion becomes
a watershed -
like some transcendent bar-mitzvah -
an intellectual coming of age
in a sinful world.

I am twelve,
and in Ocho Rios
it is
Boxing Day.

By James Gagiikwe © 2007

Author’s note:

+ Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Wm. L. Shirer.
++ Nuremberg Nazi War Crimes Trials.

© Copyright 2017 James Gagiikwe. All rights reserved.