Material Information

All clear 1928
Series Title:
Olive Senior's Gardening in the Tropics, Curated Edited Collection Online
Senior, Olive ( author )
Place of Publication:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Hyacinth M. Simpson
Ryerson University
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
1 online resource : color illustrations


Subjects / Keywords:
Poetry, Modern ( fast )
Caribbean Area ( fast )
Manners and customs ( fast )
1900-1999 ( fast )
Poetry ( fast )
Digital Scholarship Site/Resource
digital humanities ( aat )
Spatial Coverage:
Caribbean Area


General Note:
Poem text.
Poem is from Gardening in the Tropics by Olive Senior, published in Toronto by Insomniac Press in 2005.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item was contributed to the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) by the source institution listed in the metadata. This item may or may not be protected by copyright in the country where it was produced. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by applicable law, including any applicable international copyright treaty or fair use or fair dealing statutes, which dLOC partners have explicitly supported and endorsed. Any reuse of this item in excess of applicable copyright exceptions may require permission. dLOC would encourage users to contact the source institution directly or to request more information about copyright status or to provide additional information about the item.


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Full Text


Poems f r om Olive Seniors Gardening in the Tropics, All Clear : / All Clear , text of the poem, annotations, and commentary are on (or to be added) the following pages and online: 51 A udio: forthcoming


Poems f r om Olive Seniors Gardening in the Tropics, All Clear : / ALL CLEAR, 1928 1. I was beating chaklata when someone 2. came shouting: A stranger man come! 3. I dropped everything. Same way 4. in my sampata, my house dress, 5. my every day head tie, I rushed to 6. the square wondering: could it be? 7. How many gathered there so long 8. after our men disappeared into 9. the black water dividing us from 10. Puerto Limn, Havana, Coln 11. knew it was he? Not his sons lost 12. to a father fifteen years gone 13. There he was. Leather booted an d 14. spurred, sitting high on a fine horse 15. Never spoke a word. This Spanish 16. grandee sat on his horse and 17. looked at us. Looked through us. 18. Never could lump poverty. Used 19. to say: Esmie, when I strike it rich 20. in foreign what a fine gentleman 21. I'll be. And you with your clear 22. complexion will sit beside me 23. your hands stilled from work 24. like silk again (silk of my skin 25. my only dowry!) Ashamed now of my 26. darkened complexion, my work blackened 27. hands, my greying hair, a loosening 28. of my pride (three sons with Mr. Ha ll 29. the carpenter who took me in) I 30. lowered my eyes and tried to hide. 31. I needn't have bothered. He looked 32. so troubled, as if he'd lost his way. 33. And suddenly, with nothing said,


Poems f r om Olive Seniors Gardening in the Tropics, All Clear : / 34. he wheeled his horse and fled. 35. And ever after we talked of the 36. wonder of it. The stranger never 37. spoke to anyone. Forgotten the young 38. man who left home with a good white 39. shirt (stitched by these hands and 40. a borrowed black serge suit (which 41. the owner never recovered), a heng pon me 42. with four days of ration of roasted salt fish, 43. johnny cakes, dokunu and cerasee for tea 44. to tide him over to the SS Atrato 45. lying in wait in Kingston Harbour. 46. All, all the men went with our dreams 47. our hopes, our prayers. And he 48. with a guinea from Mass Dolphy 49. the schoolteacher who said that boy 50. had so much ambition he was bound 51. to go far. And he had. Gathering 52. to himself worlds of experience 53. which allowed him to ride over us 54. with a clear conscience. I never 55. told anyone. For I would have had 56. to tell his children why he hadn't 57. sent money for bread, why his fine 58. leather boots, why his saddle, 59. his grey mare, his three piece suit, 60. his bowler hat, his diamond tie pin 61. his fine manicured hands, his barbered 62. hair, his supercilious air. Never 63. was a more finely cut gentlemen 64. seen in our square. And I trembled 65. in anger and shame for the black limbo 66. into which my life had fallen 67. all these years till my hands touched


Poems f r om Olive Seniors Gardening in the Tropics, All Clear : / 68. the coarse heads of my young sons 69. recalling me to a snug house clad 70. with love. And I cried then, because 71. till he came back I had not k nown 72. my life was rooted. Years later 73. I learned that his gentlemanly air, 74. his polished boots, manners, and Ecuador 75. gold bought him a very young girl of very 76. good family in Kingston. And they wed. 77. He, with a clear conscience. 78. She, with a clear complexion.