Skip to content

A Day In The Life Of Jessamy

December 23, 2012

:: by Sandra Sealy ::

Some years ago I saw Susan Mains‘ painting, Team Work (2003), in a Caribbean exhibition in The Caribbean Gallery of Art in Speightstown, Barbados.  I was doing one of my occasional art gallery crawls.  There were a few pieces that caught my eye. The vibrancy and the composition drew me.  I wanted to pay homage to the honest toil of our Caribbean fisherfolk.  I made notes of my impressions and went home over the next few months to write the poem, A Day In The Life Of Jessamy.  I had visited Grenada before and talked to a Grenadian friend locally to research the background for the piece.

'Team Work' Copyright © Susan Mains, 2003

‘Team Work’ Copyright © Susan Mains, 2003

When the publisher/editor of “Isle Firme” found my blog and put out a call for writers from the wider Caribbean to submit work for her inaugural edition, I sent A Day In The Life Of Jessamy.  It was published in English and Spanish.  When I contacted the artist some time after the publication came out, Susan was pleasantly surprised to discover her piece engendered an ekphrasis poem all the way in Barbados.

A Day In The Life Of Jessamy

Luminous blue-green waters

merge with sweat

of honest living

and coolly crash

against splayed, bare toes

straining in wet sand.

Backs bent,

Jessamy, Stagoli and he two boys,

pull and tug

a tug-of-war

with writhing nets

laden with hind, jacks, titiri and kingfish,

under a sun-coloured sail

flapping happily

in Windward winds.

Whistling an old Sparrow tune,

Jessamy stand up and bend back,

back and neck stretching,

lift up yellow cap

and flicks sweat

from his greasy, tar-hued brow

with the back of a callused hand

and say to he self,

Is a good thing

when a man own

he own boat

an’ could look after he woman

an’ send he chil’ren

to learn good at school.

Sea life could be rough;

ain’t no life fuh dem.

But today?


Sea like she mekkin’ Carriacou love to de Sand!

She so smooth an’ sweet;

she gih we big catch dis mornin’.

But after we done selling here-

work done.

Mavis would have

hot lambie and rice and callaloo waiting,

ice-cold mauby to wash it down.

Den later at Olgilvie Shop,

play some dominoes with Stagoli and de boys,

buy a roun’ ah River Antoine,

and relax…

… cuz tomorrow mornin’-

God spare life-

is work again

Copyright © Sandra Sealy, 2009

**First published in the inaugural edition of “Isla Firme” in Venezuela in English and translated into Spanish.


Sandra SealySandra Sealy
Sandra Sealy is a communications consultant, blogger, award-winning Caribbean writer, creative writing tutor and spoken-word artist from Barbados. Her popular blog, Seawoman’s Caribbean Writing Opps offers markets and tools for international writers of all genres.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 23, 2012 1:35 pm

    Thank you for the amazing poem. It encompasses all that is Grenadian and put me in the shoes, or lack thereof, of Jessamy. Ahm ready to pull on the net and bring in the catch!

    • December 24, 2012 7:55 am

      Dear Heather:
      Thank you so much for your feedback and for tweeting it too! It means a lot to me that the piece has touched you. I’m so glad it felt authentic.

      My dear friend Diane Lumsden, who’s Grenadian-Canadian living in Barbados had A LOT to do with that feeling. I picked her brain – what beer is popular in Grenada? What expressions might a older working man like this use? etc.

      I’ve had a few other visual art pieces (sculpture/photos/paintings) inspire me this way to successfully create poetry. 🙂

      Thanks again,


  1. A Day In The Life Of Jessamy « art and soul gallery
  2. Groundation Grenada (blog) | Seawoman's Caribbean Writing Opps.

Speak Your Mind

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: