City of Tailors
Belmont, city of tailors seamlessly stitching June
and July together— Derek Walcott
The tailor shops have all but disappeared.
Mr. Wilson keeps his half-door open,
and a yard of lining, just in case.
Mackie can’t see to thread the needle.
His last suit sits sleeveless on its mannequin,
the customer wearing an old one to the funeral.
Jinx rocks in the gallery of the old folks’ home,
regaling them with tales about how
he used to make everyone wait,
while he catnapped over his Singer.
Everyone misses them, especially at Carnival,
when they made the sailor pants wide, and
on Tuesdays, when, dressed to compete,
they went shopping for chalk and fabric,
their seams always unbroken, even now,
as they prepare for that final fitting,
the kerchief in the breast pocket three-
pointed and gray, to match the worsted.
The School Gate
Before he reached her, her killer had
passed many people: the fishmonger,
whose blade was longer than his;
the Muslim entering the mosque,
turrets gleaming in the sunlight;
a mother hurrying her kids off
to school; the owners of an antique
furniture shop, where he’d
found a rocker to match his chairs.
At the school gate, he passed
the children lined up—boy, girl,
boy, she greeted them, unaware of
his presence until she saw the fear
in their eyes. Then, as they
stood, mouths open, superhero
lunchboxes dangling from their
arms, the children witnessed his
stabbing motion, while she
never screamed, only pointed
at the gate they should go in,
please, dear God, go in. Go in.
Mervyn Taylor divides his time between Trinidad, where he was born, and Brooklyn. He is the author of seven poetry collections including, Country of Warm Snow (Shearsman Books, 2020) – a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Image courtesy the poet.