Early Days Thinking Is Only So Much

I didn’t think I shouldn’t be hungry
I didn’t think of government
I didn’t blame my father’s husbandry
everything was just as it was

I didn’t think a bellyful
of nothing was nothing
I didn’t think I didn’t deserve nothing
when there was food
there was everything
and there was a lot I knew

I knew we should bow
to the well-rounded people
bow to the best educated people
bow to the whitest faces
go to school breakfast or not
and that was just how it was
and that would have to be right

Our everyday business was havenots’ business
and we worked and joked and played games
and laughed often as we could

And fruit-season or famine
or flood-time or drytime
everything was just as it was

And I didn’t think that anything
was wrong or anything was right
that education and knowhow should be
a mystery like witchcraft

It was just as it was
and everything would have to be right

Copyright: from Hot Earth Cold Earth (Bloodaxe 1995), copyright © James Berry 1995, used by permission of the author.

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James Berry's poems take you back to the noises, sights and smells of his Jamaican childhood. James was born in 1924 in a small village ...

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