Postnatal Obeah

By | 1 February 2022

We planted your naval string in a pit that your father dug,
so that every Autumn we could eat sweet figs.
We broke ground with white rum
and buried your placenta with:
the clumps of hair that fell to my feet in the shower;
psalms torn from the Bible;
bissy nuts – that would mark the small of your back;
red cloth and myrrh – to run duppies;
the curl that I cut – to hold your tongue (dumb).

The doctor prescribed Escitalopram to stop me scratching holes
in all the thoughts I had (about the things we did before),
like swimming in rainy season storms,
when the grey sea swelled into a grey sky,
and sent crocodiles down Black River. Gasping saltwater –
every breath was a prayer.
Bubble wrap lungs
burst alveoli. The sea spat back:
brackish water
black spores
black skin swollen into a bruise.
The sea stole two boys that week –
what if that was you?

(my relief when the psychologist said
that this is post traumatic stress and not something you’ll share
not something postnatal
or viral
not some antibodies
or bad-mind
for you to suckle)

Your father’s hands dug deep into Australia.
Palms cupped and offering alms,
while blackberries snaked roots
to choke
and rot
the seeds he set in old coffee cups.
Barbs pierced the cling wrap membranes,
polyethylene spilling albumin and yolk.
His fingers scratching at coal, slate, coral bones,
earthworms fed fat on micro-plastics
– labial flesh writhing as neural tubes folded –
an unhealthy liver hue.
Your own flesh (too pale)
eyes (too blue).
Your father said it was obeah –
following us across the sea.
You folded in half, and half, and half again
until you were less of him and more of me.

He wet your roots, when he wept for what we left (his kin)
and for you (his son) untied from mother-land.
The damp earth will hold you – in dry season, in pupa, in still and dim light.
This earth will hold you – until we can carry you home.

This entry was posted in 104: KIN and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Related work:

Comments are closed.