Image courtesy of Mathew Black. Shared via a Creative Commons license.
Carnival time come, and I a single entry. I not in any troop or not’ing. I just parading in me costume, all by meself. Everybody asking me what song dat is, and where me music coming from. I tell dem I write de song, which is true, and it coming from a iPod and dese little speakers ringing me North and South Poles, which not true. I projectin’ de song from me core, but dey ain need to know dat.
De sun hot, just like I like it, and no clouds dressing de sky. De crowds of people is like from before, when people didn’t used ta be fraid of crowds. All de children dem being told ta keep still, but dey can’t from de excitement in de air. Grown folks drinking all kinda rum and eating with dey fingers. Water and ice giving way for free ta keep people from passing out in de heat. De music blasting, bumping, blaring so as ta make de ground shake. Heart and hips can’t help but keep de beat, de groove growing to encompass all a dem like wet cover water.
It start ta happen when I finish in Post Office Square. Dat’s de big demonstration place. You balance you high wid you sober and do you best dance dere. Try ta remember you routine if you have one. Impress de judges and give people a good show. Make de camera dem like you so de people at home could feel like dey dere bamboushaying wid you.
Before Post Office Square is de start of Main Street where it have de old warehouses which make inta expensive stores lining both sides of de narrow street. It hard for some of de bands and costumes to pass tru cause it so narrow. But I like it, cause it intensifies de sounds and all de colors feel like hot pepper in you eye, so bright. But den when you pass out inta de Square de vibes change, because it so big, like swimming from a river inta de clean blue sea. I blow up me presence ta fill de whole Square.
Single entry me ‘rass. I was everybody and everything. I was de whole friggin’ planet. De globe I telling you, de world dancing on two feet. Course you couldn’t self see me feet. And I na touch de ground.
On Main Street de people push back, push back ta make me pass. Everyone grinding pon one anudda. Is smiles, cheers and waves. De children hush quiet wid awe, de grown folks rushing me, trying ta touch, ta see if me water wet. Try find de string between de sun and me. De moon and me. Try see how a cloud what seem ta be above Cruz could have de frangipani trees dem dripping in old Tutu. How I bright where de sun reach and dark when I turn ‘round. You like it, eh?
When I reach de Square is big I blow up. Before I was ’round twenty five feet at my equator, but I was fifty by de time I reach de judge’s stand. Ole Lady Stinking Toe petals drippin from me steada sweat. Jasmine petals drifting in me breeze, scenting de whole square. I have volcanoes erupting on de bass, and trade winds blowing loud like horns. Earthquakes trembling de drums. Tis de Earth song, you see. I’s de earth. And dey loving me.
De crowd gone wild. Dey never see nothing so. De ocean sloshing and Rock City really rocking. Cameramen zooming in, capturing a single live guana sunning on Coral Bay. Let ‘em look dey look. We all here, Everytreerockstoneandflea.
I could dance too, you know. And not only spin, neida, though me bounce ain’t so high and does take quite a while. Every now and again I does let off some sparks in de air. Stars burning bright.
Dey loving me, and I loving dem too. Feeling all de little souls tickling me, tickling me and I glad.
When time ta move on I shrink down ta fit again. Less people here and dey more watching each udda dan me. I feeling little pains, like a drilling and a cutting and a breaking up. Shrinking faster dan I wan and I can’t stop atall. By de time I pass Joe’s Bar I hardly de size of a big car. By Senior Citizen’s Viewing Stand I coulda fit inta a black plastic garbage bag. On de way ta de Field de people dem clap and smile but I could tell dey seen too much ta pay special mind ta me. Is de crowd energy dat let me blow up so. Make all me beautiful intricacies flow just so. Now only a few people studying me and I dripping and losing form. Mud sliding and whales beaching. I turnoff and head back ta de parking lot ta go have a drink in de Village.
Wellsir, I can’t self see de counter. I smaller dan a greedyman’s dream and can’t make no arms again neida.
People tripping over me, cussing, and is smaller and smaller I getting. Little boy try ta pick me up like I was a toy throw way in a gutter. I make thunder, he ain’t hear. De most I could do is get up some lightening and he drop me. I roll under a table and hunch up next to a leg.
Parade done. Sun gone down. People streaming inta de Village for Last Lap. Last drink, last dance, last chance ta have big fun. Everybody in a frenzy ta get and ta have. Nobody ain’t see me. I hear dem talking bout me, dat single entry. So pretty. So magical. So sure ta win. And I deydey, kick under de bar. Huddling in de dark, rum and hot grease dripping down through me mountains.
Celeste Rita Baker is a Virgin Islander who has published short stories in The Caribbean Writer, Calabash, Margin’s Magical Realism and Scarab. She is currently writing a novel about a mouthy Caribbean Saint who reluctantly finds herself in the same body as a sad and lonely Black woman in a futuristic New York City.