Jerome L. McElroy

Saint Mary’s College

Notre Dame, IN 46556




 They called him Rawti surreptitiously

‘Red Crab’ in island creolese,

the blanco from the north,

sentinel of Roman rule.

Proctoring the Friday Mass

on the only coast on earth

where school boys sang too loud

was his crucible.

Pacing the aisles with folded

arms and rifle eyes like

a sergeant incensed, his cold

stares extinguished brush fires

during the preliminaries.

Suppressing the potential trifecta

disaster of the closing anthem was

the real razor’s edge–

to modulate four hundred pearl

divers’ sons this side of volcano,

and detour simultaneously

a chapel-rocking side-to-side

calypso, then squelch descent

to reggae when percussive pews

and kneelers erased any trace

of Gregorian decorum.

The fore-sleeves of his cassock

shredded by the weekly sweat

suggested Rawti rarely won

and worse, never understood

why their Friday voices died

the Sunday after graduation.


Jerome L. McElroy



*Accepted in Jouvert (June 1999)