Passage (For Ben-Mark)

As part of my degree, I was required to write an “object” poem, so I decided to write about the cricket ball in my bedroom and its connotations.

I wrote about the ball, but it’s a metaphor for power, oppression and austerity – some of what my family experienced / saw when they came to this country

Cricket was a tool of the British colonisers but my great-grandfather also loved the game, and I like to think I inherited that from him.

I never met him, he died the year before I was born, 1994.


My great-grandfather Edison ‘Ben-Mark’ Noel came to Britain from Grenada in the early 1960s. Under the British Nationality Act (1948), he and his family were British citizens, including my nine year-old grandmother. Every Caribbean migrant that came between 1948 and 1973 were then known as the Windrush Generation, named for the ship of migrants that arrived at Tilbury after the war.

Why did Ben-Mark like cricket so
must be the ball
carmine like Caribbean colours

victorious since 1962
home from home
Gary Sobers and Clive Lloyd

anthems to the West Indian
between the pages of Small Island
bricks from cars like the slower ball

ooooh mustn’t throw stones
yorker, bouncer and googly
tampered leather and broken seams

so why bowl beamers, Amber
Jack’s wind-ripped skin
indelibly etched to foreign fingerprints

My great-grandfather, Edison Noel (known as Ben-Mark)
(Photo Credit: Dean Ventour)

Ben-Mark liked to
slam dominoes and kiss teeth
ya spake strange

he was at home with those
who didn’t talk like the Queen
hard hands and hot-rolled steel

black and white soldiers
in the vice of Thatcher
more strikes than smoke

stumped behind
given the King Midas touch
quack quack to the pavilion

why do I see cricket so
must be the ball
carmine like The Middle Passage.

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