My father had four children
and three sugars in his coffee
and every birthday he bought
me a dictionary which got thicker
and thicker and because his word
is not dead I carry it like sugar
on silver spoons up the Mobay hills
in Jamaica – past the flaked white walls
of plantation houses – past the canefields
and coconut trees – past the new crystal
sugar factories and all non-natives
to the land of nectar and crushed cane –

I ask dictionary why we came here.
It said nourish so I sat with my aunt
on her balcony at the top
of Barnet Heights and ate saltfish
and sweet potato and green banana
and watched people holding hands –

As I ate I asked dictionary,
‘What is difficult about love?’
It opened on the word grasp
and I looked at the hand
holding this ivory knife
and thought about how hard it was
to accept my father for who he was
and where he came from
how easy it is now to spill
sugar on the table before
it is poured into my cup.