Arts & Culture / The Reading Room / Vol. 2 No. 1-2

Legend of a Jade

Virgie Ezelle Patton, Come Pear'd to What?

Image Credit: Virgie Ezelle Patton, Come Pear’d to What?, (1999), Oil on Canvas, 80 x 60, Courtesy of Ezelle-Patton Family Collection

When she first found the bird, she wondered
how a dead thing could flaunt such silk
feathers. She even started to prod it
with her gaze, then her finger—
newly lacquered red with a bleeding brush.
She asked the air, but how this thing reach here?

It just drop so like plum, a clump of the sky’s hair?
Or what if an enemy plant it like seed? She wandered
into her kitchen for something to brush
the feathered obsidian from her life of silky
rum cream and fetes, men with ring-laden fingers.
In the dustpan, it was difficult not to marvel at it.

Come morning, she fished it from rubbish and asked it,
Come nah man, tell me how you reach here!
Cradling its askance head in her fingers.
Some jealous wife must be plant you like seed. I wonder
who, boy? I didn’t ask Rose man to buy me silk.
Did Wilma learn her husband and I does brush?

Jesun ages! Where did I misplace my favorite brush?
What if Reverend wife—I forget she name— find it?
The bird stays still, the coolest of silks
heaped on her table. My cousin drop you here?
Her visitor nodded to life. I know so! I wonder
if she get auntie Thelma’s magic finger.

After nibbling the remaining paint chips from her finger,
she walked through town, still fussing over her brush.
At the soothsayer’s turquoise and purple painted
door, she thought, what if the obeah woman sheself do it?
You see me? I is a real dunce, yes. Why it is I come here?
She turned and gathered her wits around her like a silk

gown slipping through her hands. Like an insect in a silk
web, she ambled home frazzled, her fingers
rummaging through her wild nest of hair
for her brains. Where the arse is the brush
with my name engraved? At home, she can’t find it—
that or the broken bird. She wondered

about those silken wings that made off with her brush.
With bald fingers, she searched but didn’t find it;
just ebony leaves. But how this tree reach here? she wondered.

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