Before Carnival Cancel and Borders Close

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September 23, 2022 by The Citron Review

by Camille U. Adams



Smiley’s skin was on the floor when they bust through the door. Her yellow teeth steep in his neck. His shrunken thighs immobilized under her thick legs. Her vulturous eyes swiveled and held. Locked on the appalled gaze of the intruders stalled at the threshold of the iron bed. Four posters railing the queen size spread where her ripe barbadine breasts meld into the curve of his back. Where his wife’s own now rested flat.

His wife, who’d been brought to lay under Mount Hope Hospital barcode sheets that never warm, comfort, or conceal. Under thin white cotton that revealed just how much the oncologists steal. Just how deep they dig those trenches to halt marching cancer laying waste to the field of ducts which once nursed her daughters three.

Those same daughters the gone-breasts decades ago feed and weaned now glared down at Smiley. As she peered over his shoulder slyly. Starlight illuminating vilely the obscene results of a week’s hunt. A week’s country-wide search for a man leaving them, without qualms at his harm, in the lurch. A week’s quest that lead to them finding their daddy undressed with she, Smiley, in this upstairs bedroom of a back road home.

Iz salt they was supposed to throw.

In the mortar in the corner where her suitcase sprawl out, airline tags tonguing through the mouth of dresses and sandals and tight jeans to show her means of flying een and stunting on everybody in Covigne. Coarse salt. Not tears. Not daddy how could you, and wid she of all people, too?

Soucouyant don’t care.

But they did not believe me. Dem so doh wah hear. So they did not bar their crossroads with innumerable rice grain. They let ventricular connection remain after the first detonation Smiley aimed at their load-bearing frame wherein tumbling debris rained around her vanishment from Trinidad. Never – it was supposed to be – to be seen again by that family. But then when, decades hence, Smiley streaked across the sky, a red eye, atop the plane, a rotting ball of fire launching from JFK, the liar was re-welcomed into the bosom she claimed.

And, yet, he in their rented bed, drained of that on which Smiley fed, bruised, stooped, rising in the visage of the long-ago dead, head bowed before his revolted daughters he’d uncaringly fled, was not the bones Smiley came to collect. Not him. Not the trophy hollowed-out skull in which Smiley would build her nest.

That honour lay with her prey – the fatted sheep on whom Smiley feasts best. Mere bait he was on the mattress splayed from which Smiley ascended, red beneath her nails, to face his daughters’ tongues furnished now with their tale they’d return home to tell. The story of their withered father under her spell. The fable she planned would snare, would re-adhere, her little prey who actually dared try run from her shell – Smiley’s gold chalice of blood. In whom she dwells.

And I, who they don’t believe still, alone alive – this pestle – knows Smiley won’t stop. 



Camille U. Adams is a memoirist and poet from Trinidad and Tobago. She earned her MFA from CUNY and is a current Ph.D. Candidate in Creative Nonfiction at Florida State University where she has been awarded a McKnight Doctoral Fellowship. Camille has also received scholarships for attendance at writing conferences from Community of Writers, Kweli Literary Festival, Grubstreet, VONA, etc. Her writing has been selected as a finalist for The 2021 Orison Anthology Award in Nonfiction and is featured/forthcoming in Passages North, XRAY Literary Magazine, Kweli Literary Journal, Wasafiri, and elsewhere. Camille’s currently at work on an upcoming memoir and wants a fat, little puppy.



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