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Love in a Handful of Dust: jealousy is worse than witchcraft
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jealousy is worse than witchcraft

by kirk ramdath

jealousy is worse than witchcraft
grandma’s favourite saying
that she always says in patois
jalousie sefwé sociére
fiercely religious,
she takes god everywhere
even years later
to a cold, northern land
but her faith is from the land of her birth
trinidad —
wild, luscious, fertile
wife to three
mother to thirteen
life spills from her hand
spills forth from her womb
so does long and creeping grass reclaim land after every rain
everything is jungle green,
throbs with life
the pulse of the land exhilarates
unto terror —
dreams and nightmares come to life
soukouyant sheds her skin
becomes a ball of fire
sucks the life from her victims
duennes are spirits of children
who die before baptism
fated to roam trinidad forests for eternity
pagan-christian tricksters —
they exist for people of every faith
because this land has so much spirit
magic becomes real
when grandma is born again
she makes jesus her centre
sees clear lines between good and evil
between prayer and witchcraft
she sees only one god she calls by many names —
she sees only one devil she curses with one name —
she wakes in the middle of the night
sees with all too human eyes
a great demon locked in combat
with an angel dressed as a knight
in radiant, shimmering white
she says the lord’s prayer
such conviction
because she and the lord and the devil know —
only her faith will save her life
only her faith will save her soul

but she always says
jalousie sefwé sociére

in this enchanted land
christianity transforms jungle tricksters
into nothing less than demons from hell
but grandma knows
the foulest evil does not lurk along a riverbank
waiting to lure innocents to their doom
the foulest evil
is born in bitter depths
of human hearts
of the desire to possess
what cannot be owned

jealousy is worse than witchcraft
- 4 -
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