Geoffrey Philp

Easter Song 

On the walkway between the Warner
Building and Saunders Pavilion, Mt. Sinai,
a boy, recorder in hand, practices, “Row, row
row your boat” to bands of gold lantanas
sunning under the tinted dome
of the Ruth and Sidney Harris garden
with its iron butterfly mounted
near the corner where my daughter sips
water from a fountain, above her head,
To my husband, the love of my life,
while the other kids play hide-and-seek
around the statue of the burning bush,
A symbol of god’s love for humanity;
above our heads, so many dead, dying,
overlooking the emerald bay, battered
in the wake of cruisers ploughing
past idlers this Easter Sunday, on our yearly
ritual to present ourselves, the children,
to my wife’s godparents: Don Luis, always
nattily dressed, with so few months to live,
a paisley suit on a stick–his lungs, liver, soon
his cortex invaded by colonies of corpuscles, plotting
their own death; Doña Asela, always the stronger,
floral nightie, stubs of hair, gray to the root, held
bravely by pink ponytail holders, the shoals
of her mind nibbled by the sea of a further shore;
she barely recognizes us, the children, so we apologize
for not visiting more often; Don Luis whispers
over the sand in her throat, “Todos tenemos
zapatos que nos aprietan,” and as we leave
the garden, its queen palms shrubbed
by bachelor’s buttons, we glimpse the stone
flame behind him, for it still burns,
it still burns.

From Hurricane Center (Peepal Tree, 1998)


Geoffrey Philp, an author from Jamaica, has written three children’s books, Marcus and the Amazons (Mabrak Books, 2011), Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories (Mabrak Books, 2012), and The Christmas Dutch Pot Baby (Mabrak Books, 2012); two collections of short stories, Uncle Obadiah and the Alien (Peepal Tree,1997) and Who’s Your Daddy? (Peepal Tree, 2009); a novel, Benjamin, My Son (Peepal Tree, 2003); and five poetry collections, Exodus and Other Poems (University of the Virgin Islands Press, 1990), Florida Bound (Peepal Tree, 1995), Hurricane Center (Peepal Tree, 1998), Xango Music (Peepal Tree, 2001), and Dub Wise (Peepal Tree, 2010). His work is represented in nearly every anthology of Caribbean literature, and he is one of the few writers whose work has been published in the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories and the Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. He is currently working on a novel, Garvey’s Ghost, and a collection of poems, “The Orishas of Ives Dairy.”