Turtle, Under Cover

Lincoln has a teasing look on his face. “You never did learn to clean fish properly, and to this day, your peas and rice are always too soggy, and they don’t have enough thyme.”  

I laugh. So true! All those lessons about how to be a West Indian woman, and I failed almost all of them. 

“I remember I was afraid you’d actually start an affair with her and we’d lose all our business at the bar.” Lincoln is driving the car, and I don’t know where we are going.

“Oh, I liked her. She was different from the other women, but you warned me and I listened to you. And she warned me, and I listened to her. We didn’t have a lot in common, but I liked that she wanted to teach me things. And she was a great dancer! I loved to watch her dance!”

“I danced with her plenty times,” Lincoln is laughing now, and I am remembering how, if the song was right and all available men were on the dance floor, that Truly would come up to the bar and beckon to Lincoln who would obligingly leave his post as bartender and head off into the soca beat.

“Hmm… yeah, I remember that. It was beautiful to watch the two of you dance.”

Lincoln’s been in my life now for decades. We’ve always gotten along well. He does his thing and I do mine. We give each other a lot of room and a lot of respect, and somehow over the years, it has all worked.

We pull up near the Methodist Church in the back of the big salina. The whole area behind the town is covered with these salt ponds where, years ago, the big business was in raking salt. Now they just sit and mirror the sky. No one rakes salt anymore.

The sun is high and heavy as we walk toward the graveyard. I always found the graveyards on this island to be a bit unreal, as though they are pretending to shelter the dead but the dead aren’t there. The gravediggers don’t use shovels as much as they use pickaxes to tear up the limestone that sits under the surface of most of the island. It takes a long time to dig a grave here; one man can’t do it alone.

Row upon row of white wooden crosses mark the graves. From a distance, across the salina, they look like a flock of egrets posing beside the white church with the red roof. The newer graves have whiter crosses unless someone’s family comes by regularly to repaint. The grave markers in the back haven’t weathered the years well and are now just gray wood. Any name painted on them is gone as well.