Jamaica Kincaid is one of my favorite authors. She is a fist in my gut. There are only three options with JK. Double-over. Die. Deliver. She is the sort of writer in my experience and circle who you either love or not-so-much. She can be (fill in the blank) to some, but to me she is the presence of the plow in my life.
At some point, in lieu of a love letter that might be stamped return to sender, I wrote “Boy (Piano)” and filed it away under internal-monologue-never-to-see-the-light-of-day. But how many know that God is good and he has a sense of humor. Here goes:
A gon mek you a man. Mark my words.
A man! Good and sensible and religious.
A man! You hear me?
And not like you papi from Sandy Point either.
Dem puff-out-they-chess ‘Family! Family!’ people.”
A gon mek you a man a substance.
A certain quality.
A like de look a you.
If a ever have a son, he would do well to copy after you and you ways.
You look eager and afraid.
Dat look you giving gon be the start of any lasting relationship.”“Give me you hand.
See how you lifeline long.
You and me gon mek some sweet music if you pay close attention.”
“The piano is a woman. You understand?
You have a girl? What is it? You ain ready?
What you shaking you head for?
What is it Boy? You ain’ sure or worse?
Well, you gon learn to stroke this one.
Love her until she give you an ounce a what she holding back fe surer hands.
Doan worry you head see. We gon start slow.”
“No! doan sit yet.
She ain invite you.
Doan you ever imagine you know this woman like de back a you hand.
Don’t you dare.
This ain partnership.
This here is tug-a-war.
Sometimes she gon get the best of you.
Sometimes the reverse. Just ready youself in the meanwhile.
No matter what you hear, say or whisper.
A promise you, she gon open up real quick when you mek to dismiss her.
A little provocation never hurt.
Not a one.
Show her you mean business.
Watch how she watch you and move she skirt just so.
When she stroke you head, that mean lif’ you hand lil higher.
Let you fingers start another conversation.”
“Now sit. Keep you back straight.
Is back-breaking work dis.
You got to keep up you strength.
A woman doan want hear excuses.
All she want know sef you ready.
You ready? You sure you ready?
You sure, sure, sure you ready?
Yes, a like it already.
Yes Ma’am is right.”
“I tell you Boy, you got de look about you.”
“When you come in, settle youself.
Not fe de long haul, but mek like you gon neva leave.
Brush you hand ova de lid.
Remember, you ain’ have no idea where she bin, and you certain you don’ wan know.
Now lifit up with some purpose.
You gon propose an agenda.
You have fe always have a plan.
Doan ever settle and not know how you gon mek it wuk, at least short-term.”
“Hit you scales then.
Me and you know is practice.
But mek she feel and believe you mean business.
You a listen?
‘Cause whether you know or doan care, she gon embarrass you.
And doan come wid no pong pong wid one finger.
Use all five, ten even.
That’s why the Master give them.”
This you new religion.”
Head up. Chin up.
You doan need to stop and look every time.
She gon always give it to you straight.”
You like it straight right?
You doan sound sure.
Maybe you sure, but you doan sound sure, sure.”
“You got to be sure.
A still like the look of you duh.
Yes. Keep it up.
You got a load a potential in dem hands.”
Copyright © 2010, Tynisha C. Leon