Mami Wata

By | 1 February 2022

I used to visit her
in her cottage by the sea;
my grandmother.
She spun silky stories
of a creature some had seen
and one that swam in streams.

It spoke in storms,
a spirit of the ages
cast away
into sunken seas.

Seal coat
night eyes,
ancient foe in amorous disguise.

There was always a golden comb
in her hands –
those brown, leathery hands
the colour of mahogany,
and palms
palms as white as the shells on the shore.

Beware, my child,
of that creature on the rocks;
when tides ride low
she combs her locks.

Take heed, my child
of that creature on the rocks,
luring Freetown’s fishermen
from their docks.

And if my child, you must seek land
beware of the one that extends his hand.

I never saw that creature on the rocks
but I could always feel it
in the crevices of my memory.

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