‘Fragile’ by Topher Allen

My mother always said, if you break a lizard’s egg
you will never stop breaking things.
And dinner plates slipped from my cursed fingers,
so did the figurine from whatnot, her heart-shaped clock,
her Home Sweet Home lamp shade.

My mother always said, if you break a looking glass
you will never stop breaking things.
And I was tasked to knock Sunday morning coconut
on concrete, to grate it down to my finger print.

I use to go down to Emmanuel Road, fling rock stone,
kick football and forget to return home before spit
dry on the ground; I had to pick my own sweetsop switch.

My mother did not explain that secrets are as fragile
as silence. She did not tell me that they are things
I should keep in boxes lined with sponge.

So, I kept my secrets in the oiled hinges of the back door
closing at ten o’clock at nights, in my own shadow
easing into the backseat of a car, in a man’s house
with thick curtains, a wedding day family portrait
and a bedspread white as lies.

I kept my secrets small in the white swirls I deposited
inside him. I didn’t understand fragile
until the day his wife returned unexpectedly.


TOPHER ALLEN is a Poet from Clarendon, Jamaica. He is reading Spanish at the University of the West Indies, Mona. His poetry is featured in an online anthology by 14 – 18 Now Press that commemorates the centenary of the Caribbean involvement in the First World War. Mr. Allen was the recipient of the Louise Bennett-Coverley Prize for Poetry 2019, a prize which is administered by the Poet Laureate of Jamaica, Professor Lorna Goodison, and the National Library of Jamaica.

Copyright © 2019 by Topher Allen. All rights reserved.

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