Tanya Shirley

Image by Author photograph © Arlene Brown.

Montego Bay

Montego Bay

I'm dancing barefoot, toes
digging into the sand, for you.
You're locked in small talk
with a Rasta lady but your eyes
are facing my direction, perhaps
looking out to sea, trailing the water's
silver quilt for a song or signs of rain.
I imagine it is me you find
washed up like a pirate's treasure,
rolling my hips, rubbing the sweat
on my neck, the top of my breasts in slow,
small circles, marking time with Marley
when a friend says, "You don't wine to Bob."
But Bob would understand
what a woman has to do to hold a man
in this one room of sea and sky.

Each semaphore is for your unraveling.
This sped-up gyration for the thirst
in your eyes; this slowed-down dip
and push back, roll and press forward
for the quiver in your lips,
their plumpness, their secrets, their grasp
on my nipple; this sideway rock and slither
for the girth of your hands; this slow skank backward
and forward for the smooth of your skin.

But it is not enough.
You'll remember your obligations: a wife
to return to, school fees to be paid, the high light
bill, a roof in need of repair, an ailing father,
the overgrown lawn, church on Sunday.
You'll turn your back and I'll continue to dance.

Copyright © Tanya Shirley and used by permission of the author.


Tanya Shirley

Tanya Shirley reading from her Poems

1What I Learned in Grenada

2To The Man Who Tends My Grandmother’s Grave

3Let This Be Your Praise

4Montego Bay

5Standing Outside the Circle

6Dining at Customs


8A Chant Against Fear

9Breathing Art

10Where is God in All of This?


12The Distance Between Us

13Out of Body

14Upon Meeting a Woman by the Name of Melba

15My Christian Friend


17A West Indian Poem

18Roll Call

19Grandpa in the Departure Lounge

20Colour Me Dis, Colour Me Dat


22The Power of Prayer 23Some Lessons You Never Learn

24Waiting for Rain


26Victorian Romance

27Sunday Ritual

28The Shifting Ground

29Matie Shall not Conqueur

30A Long Story