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At the university they gave me books

on the history of Barbados

but what they didn't tell me

was that all I had to do was head over

to the eastside and look into your eyes.

It was Sunday morning I saw you

and right away I knew I could spend the rest of my life

resting in the wrinkles around your mouth.

Circles etch their way around your neck

the way they would around a great tree

and if you were to tell me you saw that tree

when it was but a thought in the ground

I'd believe you

because you've got history all over your face

and I think you know it.

I think you like movin' about

droppin' little stories all 'round the island.

Maybe one day you'll tell your secrets,

like how you know where Lulu's baby's really at,

and what's behind that old shack round Grandville's.

You never could keep a secret when you were a girl

all somebody had to do was look at ya sideways

and there'd be that giggle and they'd know

Mandy's got herself a secret.

Time washes things clear off some people

just lookin' at um you can see they're blank

as if they just came into this world

but time stuck on you like varnish

sealing it all in

melting to fill in the cracks

like butter in pie crust.

You look pretty in your church clothes

but I hope you know it's silly really

like dressing up a Bible with leather and gold-leaf trim

when you know it can't compete

with what's inside.

Ember Ward is a recent graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, and aspires to be a professional photographer. Her poem, "Escalator Up," won an award from the San Francisco City Arts Commission and is permanently displayed on a bronze plaque on the San Francisco Embarcadero. You can reach her at:

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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Ward, Ember
Publication:Social Policy
Article Type:Poem
Date:Jun 22, 2001
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