When you were young, you learned to keep out of the bar.
This kept you decent.
You had scrubbed knees, a moon face, two hairplaits like black rope,
thick as pregnant pit vipers with red ribbon tongues.
At nine, you bled.
At twelve, you listened to your nani when she said –
Stand by the Carib fridge and stay still.
Don’t look into the bar. Don’t smile. Don’t move.
Prashant uncle want to see how big you get.
You counted sixteen cold Carib.
A Green Shandy.
The icepick forgotten from the last defrost.
A basin of scotch bonnet, waiting for pepper sauce.
You drew a smiley face on the condensation.
You were grinding dhal, and there was yellow dust on your legs.
You never forget the shortpants you had on.
In truth, you still don’t know any man named Prashant.
All you recall
is a bar fridge reflection, a haze of chest hair, a flash of platinum bera.
A clink, to say you wasn’t ugly.
A clink clink, to say you was real nice.
After that day,
you stood outside the bar window, counting everything in sight.
15 May 2017