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Monday, March 17, 2014

Death in the Family

For Cousin Rupert Sterling, a.k.a Spanky

He lies there all by himself
On some cold gurney
The big, foreign cities prepared him for the cold
Didn’t even know he was sick
Didn’t even know he was above me
On a ward in the same hospital where I work
And he was family

The first time I came across his exercise book
All those trigonometric signs and symbols
He must be bright, the brightest, I concluded
With handwriting so clear, the pages looked unworthy
I must go to school to become as good or better
Because he was family

How did we find place and pride at the top of a new village?
And fall from grace and place in one generation?
Some thing, some sin, some contract
Must have come our way
Or maybe some of us are just too smart
Too smart for our own good
And too dangerous
For family

And yet he taught the world's best steel pan player, arguably
Arguably the best but not arguably the teacher
And to think my father was responsible for him in his first steel band
When my father reportedly drank a drum full of "brebritch"
To win a bet I presume
And how many other bets were wagered
One for my maiden mother?
And so for my immediate
Family too?

He gave me my first saxophone
So I should go and play at his funeral, if asked
To say thanks and ease his tortured soul
Because with his earthly passing
The grief, hurt and destruction heaped on members of this family
Will not be buried with him
But we have to move on
And live on
And learn that good and evil comprise us
Because whatever he was, he was one of us, inside us

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