After ‘Lead You to the Shore’ by Steven Oliver (Fire Front: First Nations poetry and power today, UQP 2020)
I’m a dark horse
beating down the door somewhere childhood
escaped the streets etching three syllables of my name
beneath the old city of Bab Al-Yemen
a woman dressed in black found me shackled to the gates
it was my mother, chewing on her ruby passport
it’s time to leave.
Goodbyes passed the Northern valleys
greeted the Southern blue waters unlocking
the fishermen’s Red Sea-
colony crown reeked of death
buried in my foreign blood, martyrs will meet life
justice will dance on the heads of snakes
it turned cold quickly, over the Mediterranean.
This Yemeni girl sings British anthems
between her terrace walls, i lost a part of me.
I forgot the taste of my mother’s milk
with her nipple gritted between my teeth.
I taught my mother how to speak English
translating her hospital letters, cold is eating her bones.
I skipped school to escape the scouse boys
lurking at bus stops who sing riddles
of camels, curry and Bin Laden headlines.
A heartbreak worth to be torn
between two homes if my racist neighbour
daydreams our women in two-piece sets golden
headbands white polished toes
in the sand? I deserve my honour.
I lost a part of me in this dining room
learning to use a knife and fork
we don’t eat Sunday roast fish and chips
porky pie or go to the pubs
i like my fingers in my food, coffee before I sleep.
I lost a part of me in this corner shop
gran-dad left selling Mokha
beans broken dreams broken biscuits for a half a penny.
Why here, why here?
This Yemeni girl sings British anthems British bombs
between her terrace walls she wears home
and this dress fits perfectly.
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