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i Trees Have Hands Elcia Daniel Poems and Memoir Shorts
ii Trees Have Hands 2012 Elcia Daniel All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author. Cover design by Denise Humphrey ISBN: 978 0 578 10874 2 First Printing 2012 Printed at Cornerstone Printing United States Virgin Islands
iii Acknowledgements I wish to acknowledge the following publications in which a few of my poems an published by the University of the West Indies Extra Mura l ogy of Poems. The New Voices (Trinidad), 1991. renowned scholar, historian and poet, and retired University of the West Indies Professor, for writing the Introduction to this book. I feel greatly honored. I also wish to thank him for editing my work and for his encouragement over the years. I would like to acknowledge the unwavering support of my husband Joseph, my sons Julian, Terrence and Marcus. They h ave always expressed their confidence in my ability to write. Special thanks to Marcus who assisted with the typesetting and preparation of the manuscript for publication, and to Denise Humphrey for her creative cover design. Thanks to my sister Judith Ro gers for her ongoing encouragement, my friend Gwyneth Hendricks for reading and applauding my work, and to my writing partner Mary Langley Edwards for her listening ear and moral support. And of course, a special hug to my youngest granddaughter Andrea Pa trice for providing the inspiration for some of my poems.
iv Preface This publication symbolizes the maturity of a dream that I have lived with for many years. I realize that thoughts and dreams can soar at will, but reality begins at the starting block. Li The poems in this book have been organized into five sections. Section A contains poems which reflect observations of my youngest granddaughter whose antics and developmental peculiarities at times inspired my Muse. Section B includes poems about the 1995 reawakening of a volcano which had been thought to be extinct. Section C contains tributes in celebration of a few persons some deceased. The poem s contained in Section D seek to reflect the classroom of life itself. In Section E the atmosphere is intended to be carefree and inviting. In this publication I have also included a prose segment containing some personal memories as well as one fictional short story.
v Contents Introduction 1 A. Turning Pages Turning Pages 7 First Steps 7 Lessons from the Crib 8 Forgotten Joy 8 If I Could 9 Potty Training 10 A Hug for Troll 10 Out, Stubborn Spot 10 B. Vo lcano Revelation 1 5 Crisis 1 5 Exodus 16 Hope 16 Master Plan 17 C. Tributes The Memory 21 In Recognition of Thomas Hogan 21 Last Appeal 22 Tribute in Lights 23 The Open Shore 24 A Berbician Gem 24 Hair Magic 25
vi D. Choices Trees Have Hands 29 Wheels of Life 29 Sermon of the Heart 30 Making a U Turn 30 Relatives 31 Mirrors 31 To all my Students 32 E. Break Time Break Time 37 Winged Seeds 37 Sea Water 38 Simple Pleasure 39 Snapshots of a Cruise 39 The View 40 Sweat on my Brow 41 Fit for a Queen 42 Memoir Shorts Under the Guinep Tree 4 5 The Love Leaf 49 Charlie 5 4 Beyond the Dream 5 7 Scenes Revisited 62 Short Story Crash Landing 67
1 Introduction Elcia Daniel is not a new poet although this is her first book. A seasoned writer disciplined with word and line, she has been anthologized several times since 1990. The poems are among the best in this volume have been previously published by the University of the West Indies Extra Mural Unit in Montserrat. With Trees Have Hands she makes a strong entrance into the world of book publication as an engaging poet. ability to grip with graphic imagery, and in this particular and contradictions. Hands both help and hurt and are more likely In spite of the strong philosophical element in the poem or because of it, the emotional content is rich and controlled. The lessons from life in the book, from the literal and proverbial cradle, to the edge of the grave, are golden; and they emanate from child observation, child rearing, the trauma and dislocation of an erupting volcano, break time from the tedium of marking books and luxuriating in the pleasant moods of nature. The volume is small, but compelling and teasing. Daniel, a lifelong educator is apt to teach and extract lessons, but her tactile imagery and keen observation rescues her from undue preachment, though God and moral import lurk beneath the lines. The book is organized in five sections or movements. Section A infancy and the halting but steady efforts to grow up and break out from the crib cage. This comes with a
2 consequential loss of innocence, although there is a gain for the ad ult is reminded of: What innocence looked like What it felt like to laugh. Innocence gives way to experience (to echo William Blake) with another birth that of an explosive volcano of stupendous energy. It scatters and rains desolation thereby present ing another side of God. Some join the dance of the Diaspora ambivalence and uncertainty of paradise is evident and is an example of what makes Daniel an intriguing poet. Paradisiac Montserrat hosts t he serpent of Soufrire. But there is a hope conveyed in tender sentiment and freshness volcano is a source of death and life. Tributes, (Section C) celebrate places and people. In small communities with scant records and at best selective memories, one must record icons in living lines. It could be the man/hero who makes the traffic light s to work, facilitating flow, mirroring the flow of life: We say his name recall his legacy: for easy traffic flow; or it could be an archetypal figure like Thomas Hogan (p. 21 ) who read the rhythms (The delicate painting is touching).
3 a U ended invitation. But beware of the siren call of the poet: the U turn may lead to Christ. climactic section with a number of strong imagery of the chatterbox hens that arrests attention, and the analogy with the women and their belly laugh is delicious. The moral must not be miss ed. Breaks and pauses are just critical for survival. It is difficult to resist a islands but a linking mechanism. This is a useful lesson for islands that have long flirted with unity, but it go es deeper, bearing secrets, bearing life, buoyant and deep with the rhythm conveying something of the mysteries of the deep. reading. She confronts life in its many moods and manifestations an d subjects them to her creative will. She imaginatively captures the moods of scenes and people of all ages, including the mayhem of a mountain on fire. She does this with an appreciation of the depth and a consciousness of the complexities of the enviro nment, and its impact on human existence here and maybe even hereafter. Daniel is an artist mindful of the multifaceted nature of her craft. She has much to say and the creative skill with which to sing it. Trees Have Hands unveils a mature artist of th e word. Howard A. Fergus KBE PhD UWI Professor (retired)
13 B. Volcano
15 Revelation To witness the birth pains of a mountain which labored long in silence, to feel the fragmenting of her ancient walls as her spawn leap out with perverted glee romping and spewing all over her sides is to know fear. To feel the fury of that triumphant belch: Her missiles speak her dire intent. To be reshaped with the land thrown up like jigsaw pieces, to recreate a wholeness from a chastened and disrupted life is to know God. Crisis Crisis is a mountain tearing at your soul wrenching you r feet from the backyard It is ash in your hair your eyes, under your teeth filling your lungs smothering you. It is a black cloud racing towards you carrying heaven knows what.
i ABOUT THE AUTHOR Elcia Daniel was born o n the island of Anguilla where she started her teaching career Training College in Antigua, and later mov ed to Montserrat to settle with her husband. She has t aught throughout the school sys t em and was Head of the Language Department at the Montserrat Secondary School. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in Education from the University of the Virgin Islands, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in History from the University of the West I ndies Her present place of abode is St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands where she taught English at the Charlotte Amalie High School before retiring in 2007. She has had several poems and short stories published in Caribbean Journals over the years.