Return to Fiction & Poetry


A great mother
hollowed by grief
on the cusp 
of the darkest
descent into hell
once bled these words

I will not die today
I have much to do and say

Yet her skin
under the touch
of raw chicken-like flesh
colonial fingers
invaded every part of her

Mother’s mother’s mother
wanted to cease every breath
send it back to the ancestors
across the seas
where the crumbling bones 
of generations without end
lay in gently moulded red earth
waiting patiently for her to join them

spinning through tight years 
of unshed tears 
she foresaw
her loose cocoa and dasheen coloured children
lighter and brighter
each generation
never passing the
paper bag test

her flesh
my flesh

her bones
my bones

her blood
my blood

one drop of her blood 
too powerful 
to ignore

one drop of her blood 
enough to hold 
her people
in a foreign land

Mother’s mother’s mother
labelled colonial chattel
unwillingly constructed as
the final bridge to our once uninterrupted history

her blood
my blood

so powerful
she stayed
in a foreign land
of sharp unfamiliar pain

she told my mother’s mother

You will not die today
You have much to do and say

Mother’s mother’s mother prophesied
about me
me … an unborn future
part of her
she did not know

Mother’s mother’s mother told them
not to die
to root
to grow old and grey
she told them 
to echo 
echo her
they re-captured
their own light
walked their own path
carved their own history
as she was taught
at her mother’s knee

ballooned by distant hope

she said
reshape you future
with your own hands
echo me
she said

The ever rising sun
bears witness
to her story

keloid scars remain
like flares
through the universe

of invading 
breaking sacred bonds 
like China cups on rough seas

history repeats
yet they continue to fail
to colonise 
my mind
for great-great-oh-so-great grandma
in me

my strong line
of great mothers
stayed alive
pressed paper thin 
stayed alive
teaching in the shadows
stayed alive
carving furrows of hope
in blood-soaked soil

Mother’s mother’s mother
who stayed alive
for me
to be

We will not die today
We have much to do and say

January 2021
For Mummy - thank you.