Poui Time in Killing Fields

I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we’ll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it’s a long way to go,
A hard row to hoe
Yes it’s a long way to go,
But in the meantime,
Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you,
While you’re busy making other plans,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful boy.
—Beautiful Boy, John Lennon
Pouis bloom with a suddenness that can be disconcerting. In poui season that comes just after the falsified beautification of Papa Patos’ summit pappyshow, the murder rate soars like made-in-China kites.
No zwill or mange. No old school razorblade badjohnism. This is straight up plastic-coloured murder. It is poui time and killing time. It is so hot you have to walk on tiptoe, lest the molten asphalt swallows your feet. The heat is an assault, a violent rage of tropical disgust at melting polar ice caps.
It is killing time and poui time in Trinidad. The days are so beautiful you think the gods themselves must sit in wonder at how, when the sun hits a poui tree at dusk, it sets the sky aflame. It is an astounding kind of beauty that catches your breath as you catch sight of the first one. And then another. Until the hills are alight with pink and yellow. One day they are a nonchalant green like every other tree. The next day, you walk past and the tree is like a whole new person.
The flowers drop as quickly as they appear. As if the beauty is too much for the tree itself to bear. The yellow and pink blossoms become squishy mulch under your feet. Poui flowers live and die endlessly here. You have come to expect this never-ending living and dying. But it is no less disconcerting.It is no less disturbing. You see poui’s transient beauty reflected in a boy named Adrian on the front page of your newspapers. His face smiles accusingly at you from the paper. Beautiful boy.
You remember his smile, somewhere between angel and 12-year-old trickster. Stand accused for doing nothing to save him from dying like a two-day-old poui blossom rotting on your hot pavements. His beauty is mulch under your feet and you don’t know what to do. He is gone. And for a day or so we wail. A mother’s belly churns for her boy child while politicians play at crime plans. And you know when poui time is over, killing time will remain. And every young man living in Laventille is a poui blossom blooming beautiful and bright for a minute and then falling to a quick death, a pulpy mangled mulch under our feet.
Beautiful boy, please forgive me.
I find myself tiptoeing around dying poui blossoms. I cannot save them but I cannot step on them either. They remind me too much of all that we have lost here. In the poui time that is also the killing time. Regardless of the season, regardless of new crime plan, regardless of endless inanities from ministers, we continue to gorge ourselves on the blood of our children. We build monuments to one man’s megalomania and those who have no access to these monuments worship his bling. Those that fall on concrete have no hope of legacy. Of coming to life again as some new young poui. Of living on as a stickman’s bois. Of growing tall and strong and invincible.
It is a disturbing thing too, because poui is supposed to be a strong tree. Big strong tree with flowers so fragile. Fragile like male egos in a society where manhood is not taught but fought over. Where to be a man is not to feel anything but anger. So do you try to save falling pouis. Death is inevitable. Death is the unquestioned assurance of living. Poui falling like Adrian and Sean and Akiel. Beautiful boys have mercy on us.
Poui falling like promises from from politicians’ lips. Like the price of oil and the funding available for projects in communities at risk. It is poui time. It doesn’t last long. Like so many of our young people. So many of them dying just as they begin to blossom. Just as they begin to radiate their Triniest of beauty. It is sudden and disconcerting how beautiful they are and how fast we let them go.
Beautiful boy, who will save us if all of you are dying so young?

One thought on “Poui Time in Killing Fields

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Trinidad & Tobago: Beautiful Boys

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