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:
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
not some antibodies
for you to suckle)
Your father’s hands dug deep into Australia.
Palms cupped and offering alms,
while blackberries snaked roots
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.
- 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLEwith E Gomez and S Gory 102: GAMEwith R Green and J Maxwell 101: NO THEME 10with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones