Barbados: Esther Phillips

(on teaching an adult male to read)

He trusted me to break
the word, crack each segment
open until the mystery expired.
Not so this morning;
he stared bewildered
at the board then back at me:
"I never t'ought dat word
could be so small... F-i-x,"
he mused, "dis word so small."

How could his daily toil
of hammer, saw and nails;
an old lady's reckoning
of last month's window
against the patching
of her roof this week --
how could her life of sacrifice
and his of labour, sweat
and boiling sun
be totalled up
in this small word?

from The Stone Gatherer, Peepal Tree, 2009

Release date:


5 minutes

This clip is from

Featured in...