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The Immigrant

Sachelle is up early with the first cock. She squeezed some fresh orange juice, cleaned the kitchen, swept the veranda. Everything is so alive. Bamboo in the bush snaps with a hollow toot. When the side door, which should have been opened to air out the house, swings wide in the wind, Sachelle turns and says, “Thank you.”

The goats and sheep in her neighbor’s yard talk to her. They sound like old men with grizzled voices at a soccer match cheering, rrrraayyy brayyy, hoorrrrayy. Jazz and Reggae are curious but no dogs roam to kill, they are kept on property to protect. When they go liming they’re just free to sniff out the hood and run.

A cow grazes next door. She has gotten used to seeing Sachelle out in her pink sarong. She’s a cow who has horns and when she was lowing like a foghorn, Sachelle worried she would be rushed and gored. She misstepped yesterday and landed splat into a cowpie. The house has no running water. Lucky the rain barrels are everywhere.

She is agog and awash with the phenomena of this island, Dominique. Its patois, the nods, how people tell the news. Sachelle has had little racial tweaks, but there is no pure hatred here as in the US. The people are friendly, English polite, fun loving, and despite poverty, a sin in America, do the best, cleanest job with what they have.

It rains every day, sometimes on her neighbor’s house and not her own. Sun and rain and rainbows. The mountains shoot straight up from the end of her back yard which then drops down thirty feet to a river. Beside the grandeur of the rainforest, the Dominican people are curious, loving, respectful, eager and benign. The white Americans who visit are relaxed and not so afraid of black people. Sachelle has been singing “The Magical Mystery Tour is coming to take me away,” Along with the toot of bamboo and the beating rain.

Her drive from town to the house is ten minutes. The one street light in the entire country hangs from its wire over the one lane bridge spanning the Roseau River. Still, she goes like hell on yellow to beat the red! Riding with bus drivers didn’t make her want to try her own transport. Left hand drive on winding mountain roads was tricky. She had to judge how much of the mountain road was hers while passing an oncoming car, her left wheels four inches from the mountain cliff!

It is 7 AM. Sachelle sits on Mama’s porch with her coffee and mastiff bread and watches downtown come alive. The Steamship “Fascination” is docking. The portholes and the ship itself moves slowly between the small wooden houses. It looks as if the Empire State Building is being hauled up the street. Car horns have begun their hurry up. The cawks started hours ago.

It took her ten minutes of figuring to recall what day it was. By Thursday of this week she caught up to it. The wind blew her IKEA clock off the wall and now the minute hand swings free like a broken arm. The hour hand moves correctly from number to number and that is close enough.

The week passed uneventful and she rose on Friday at six AM. The sun has just risen and early morning rain cleans the air. It beats down like crazy part of every day. After a few seconds it stops and the sun becomes unrelenting. Then a mist, more sun. A rainbow. Later rain shifting gears on the roof. The nanny goat, untethered, brings her two kids to graze. Sachelle worries there will be only one in a few days. The other sold for someone’s Christmas, tasty, free range, herb fed. The hard work of life here lets her see the purity of use for purpose. Nothing is wasted, nothing missed.

She spent the morning in the Catholic cemetery looking at graves, so many unmarked. Her friend had died on Mother’s Day. He was forty four and left a wife and five children. The youngest was six weeks. He is Sachelle’s godson, for the comfort, not the religion. There is only a pile of stones around Baba’s grave.

While she is walking back to her car Sachelle sees a denture plate. Here, they dig up old graves to bury the new. It made her think of cremation. Fire, air, and wind for her ending. It has suited her lifestyle, it could celebrate her death.



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