Advised by an Angel, Joseph
Takes Mary as His Wife
Don’t a grey head somebody like me,
my helpmate long gone, four pikni,
two son big and married wid dem own family
and two likl girl, should know better?
Tell me why me did think to married
a next time would easy fix my difficulty?
No! Don’t take serious thing and make joke.
A wife in a man bed is Jah-Jah provision,
a dream and a blessing,
but two girl pikni wid no supervision
running wild like mad puss
is a father nightmare.
Me did pray, Jah-Jah know, never sleep
plenty night, begging for direction.
When Miss Ann pass my house
wid Mary, me notice how she grow,
turn a miss, not a youngster no more
but a woman graceful as a high
leaping fish in de Galilee Sea.
Same time me sense Jah-Jah
answer to my prayer.
Likl more me and Maas Joachim
agree a bride price. Mary accept me
as husband and put on de veil of a betrothed.
Me smiling content every morning
until yesterday Mary come wid a story
don’t make one stick of sense.
Say she pregnant but not wid no earthly baby.
First me think she was sporting wid me
but me sight her mother countenance
and me know is not no fun. When Mary say Jah
send a angel to ask her to make him baby,
my two nose hole flare, my two lip shub out,
and me think to myself, She take me
for a fool. Likl most me say so
but me member a rule my old father teach.
“Never speak in anger nor act when
your head hot. Hurry slow to conclusion,
no matter what.” So I hold my peace,
listen close, say I must consider
de best course. When me reach home
me put Sarah and Judith to bed.
Me hungry but me too vex to eat
so me walk to de well, draw water,
drink a long cool jug.
Den I pray on my knee. “Jah-Jah, how
you could do me bad so? I love Mary plenty.
If she making a next man baby,
I going spare her de shame. I going send
her far and make up a story about where
she gone off to and what take her away.”
After dat my mind give me some ease
so me lay down and sleep.
And a angel appear, clear as day,
bright like sun, and him call me by name.
“Joseph, son of David,” him say, “you don’t have
to frighten to take Mary, sworn, as your wife;
for is de Holy Spirit give her de pikni.”
Just as well me was on my back or me would must
fall down! And him tell me exactly
what Mary did say. “She going bear
a boy child; you must call him Yeshua,
for him going save Israel from dem sins.”
What to do? Sleepy so, me member
my Mary and me feel it for her…
Don’t me have to agree to what de angel say?
Pamela Mordecai’s previous collections of poetry include Journey Poem (1989); de Man, a performance poem (1995); Certifiable (2001); The True Blue of Islands (2005), and Subversive Sonnets (2012). de book of Mary is set to be published in 2015. In 2006 she published Pink Icing, a collection of short stories; her first novel, Red Jacket, appeared in February, 2015. She has edited and co-edited ground-breaking anthologies of Caribbean writing including Jamaica Woman (1980, 1985, with Mervyn Morris); From Our Yard: Jamaican Poetry since Independence (1987); Her True-True Name: An Anthology of Women’s Writing from the Caribbean (1989, with Betty Wilson) and Calling Cards: New Poetry from Caribbean/ Canadian Women (2005). Her play, El Numero Uno had its world premiere at the Loraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People in Toronto in 2010. In spring 2014, she was a fellow at the prestigious Yaddo artists’ community in upstate New York yaddo.org. Pam and her family immigrated to Canada in 1994. She lives with her husband, Martin, in Kitchener, Ontario.