“Maybe I could love a man” by Raymond Antrobus

Maybe I could love a man

I think to myself
sitting with cousin Shaun in the Spanish Hotel

eating red snapper and rice and peas – as Shaun says
you talk about your father a lot but I wasn’t

talking about my father, I was talking about the host
on ‘Smile Jamaica’ who said to me on live TV

If you’ve never lived in Jamaica you’re not Jamaican,
I said, my father born here, he brought me back every year

wanting to keep something of his home in me
and the host sneered. I imagine my father laughing

at all the TVs in heaven. He knew this kind of question,
being gone ten years, people said you from foreign now.

Cousin Shaun lifts his glass of rum, says why does anyone
try to change their fathers. Later, it is enough

for me to sit with Uncle Barry as he tells me in his bravado
about the windows he bricked, thrown out of pubs

for standing ground against the National Front. His name
for my father was ‘Bruck’ because man always ready

to bruck up tings but I know my Uncle is just trying
to say I miss him. Look what toughness does

to the men we love, me and Shaun are both trying to hold them.
But if our fathers could see us, sitting

in this hotel, they would laugh, not knowing
what else to do. But I’ll walk away knowing

there are people here that remember my father,
people who know who I am, who say

our grandfathers used to sit on that hill
and slaughter goats, while our fathers held

babies and their drinks, waving goodbye
to the people on Birch Hill who are and are not us.

Raymond Antrobus is the author of The Perseverance (Penned in the Margins, 2018) and To Sweeten Bitter (Out-Spoken Press, 2017). He is a freelance spoken word and poetry teacher who lives in London.