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ole time: getting ready for school

You remember... those days. . . before morning chores
when you'd jump-skip along the footpath
Avoiding patches of smelly mud and grimy water
Going for your usual bath

You remember... the break of day
when you'd join others at the waterside
Greeted by life-giving surya, not yet in flaming fiery fury
Wind, cool and balmy, enhanced by the graceful tide

You remember... rushing waters laced with froth on craggy sea walls
Human fixtures chewing black sage, spitting
Bare backsides hung in the distance, disguising
And many little ones in the giant Essequibo
Having their morning dip, even so

You remember... the cool brown water
Fresh, sometimes brackish, silted, washing or falling
tides that bring four-eyes, man-o-war, seeds of jumbie earring, ite and mora
Sometimes calm, kissed by a ribbon of sunlight stretched, brilliance so brazen
Caricaturing a silted moustache and crapo beard, fit for aquatic opera

You remember... time, without a clock to see
The distance of the sun from the horizon
tells to the nearest degree

You scramble out and save your Rex or Zex salt soap
between blades of leaves
Your skin briskly dried with a towel
brown with age and exposure
cut from the used flour sack
Skipping over the trodden trodden track
Rinsing feet in trench water with due care
Running into the house for school clothes
Oiling han'-and-foot and hair
Gobbling without delay – cold tea, roti and curry
Looking smart – shirt in pants, hair part
moving in a hurry
Your cloth book-bag dangling as you plod your way to school
On the red brick road, nonchalantly
Mud squish squish between your toes caressingly.

– Gary Girdhari 1998