Left Behind

Pat

creative partner Susan Moffat

reader Samantha Pearl

My first day on earth
My dad flies from Jamaica to England.
His ticket booked before I am planted inside mother.
England- ‘a better life’.

Mother follows him.
I am three
I will be fine.
Won’t I?
With my grandparents.

Jamaica?
A farm
Pigs
Cows
Chickens
Goats
Sugar cane
Oranges
Guava.

A guava branch used as hammock.
The shade
Good for reading.
Listen to animals grunt and cluck.
A lizard sits opposite me
Hiding from the sun.
Just him and me.
Look! down at women washing clothes
Boys and girls swimming in the river
Friends passing.
‘Wait fe me, soon come!’

Soon come.
Mother and father do not, ‘Soon come’.
Blue letters from England.
‘Par Avion’.
Letters from strangers.
‘Come to England’.
‘No’ says grandfather.
He keeps me close.
Road accident
Spleen crushed by steering wheel
Died in hospital.
‘I can’t protect you anymore.’ Grandma tells me.

Summer of 1976.
I am sixteen.
I must meet my parents and four younger sisters.
I fly
Alone.

1976 the hottest of English summers.
Hottest for 350 years.
But I am cold.

And there we are.
All together
In a three -bedroomed flat on the third storey of brick and concrete.
Trapped.
Where is the lizard?
Where is the guava tree?
Where are my friends?
‘Wait fe me, soon come!’

Grandma’s voice in my head-
‘When in Rome…’
But I don’t want to be a Roman.

Here in London where the Romans once roam.
I am a girl from Jamaica.
Instead of the hard stone balcony
I long for the tree.
Dreams of lying on the ledge
Concrete crumbling.
Wake up falling.
Still in darkness
Heart racing, clammy skin.
Still in London.
No Jamaica.

‘Wait fe me, soon come!’

Pat

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