It is in place that we locate ourselves

It is in place that we locate ourselves, mark ourselves in relation with others; it is  in place that we survive. – Meena Alexander  

Within my body, I carry the stories 

of my mother, grandmothers, 

sisters and aunts. My body carries 

their stories of love and loss;

wounds passed on through

bone and blood. Leaving scars, 

leaving diminished spirits.

But just as those stars are burning

bright right now, leaving their trails

of light, my body, my beautiful body

will survive, heal and fire. 

Under the Pink Moon, The Procession Thrums with Memories of Blossom

The Procession, 2022, Hew Locke

After Hew Locke. After Taylor Johnson

My father would say so much with his eyes and hands. Sitting up in his burgundy armchair like a thorn. He would dress in waistcoat and trilby to walk up the road to the bookies on blossom warm afternoons. And when he was gone, I waited in his shadow for his sing-song step to return up the stairs. And when he didn’t return, I sat there lost like our place in history and the world.

Something was wrong when I left the country. Heart tight, sorrow crawling through the blood. Leaving meant joining an age-old tradition, down dusty roads at the crack of dawn. Humid bodies, sweat mingling fear, ebb and flow red blue and green paints. Thrumming bass behind the truck. Before us, lined streets, roped between black and white bodies. We whine to claim space.

I love the freedom assembled lines give. Celebrate, protest, mourn, and escape: The Procession. My father who packed away home in his grip on arrival; was Roberta Flack who set off a smile. I was left to shift between the gap and practice owning something around blackness. I had a feeling I would never be enough. There are times of melting, with the turn of a record, under a pink moon, when there is so much beauty to live, when I recount memories of love tucked inside.

The Terzanelle – The Gaze

Too often we refuse to gaze
on something unpleasant to see.
Rubs against us all the wrong ways.

I don’t like to see an oak tree,
feel my neck snap. And my heart breaks
when there ‘s something unpleasant to see.

My words, a soundtrack for those taken;
blackmen whipped, flesh-eating scars, pain,
felt my neck snap and my heart broken.

Dead eyes and flashbulb smiles at the slain.
Who wants to look at these photographs?
Black guys, whipped, flesh-eating scars, pain.

Who has to deal with the aftermath
of bodies reshaped by tragedy?
Who wants to look at these photographs?

Callous grins surround,
too often we refuse to look.
Their bodies reshaped by tragedy
rubs us up the wrong way.

La Jablesse

La Jablesse, Zak Ove

After Zak Ove

Come, follow me, young man, into the forest. Come. You like the sway of my hips, and my secret smile?

Then come, follow me, if you want to see more, to touch more. I’ll be all yours in the hidden forest away from the waging tongues.

Pay no mind to my necklace of antique nails or the weathered ropes I wear like a scarf or shawl. It’s just my unique style.

Come. Not yet. Don’t peak under my wide brimmed hat or under my long skirts. Patience, you naughty boy.

Come follow me and I’ll be all yours in time. Brass horns and trumpets I adorn because I love to make merry and dance.

African mask I wear because I know where my people come from. Smelling of jasmine and rose with a hint of decay. Come.

Pay no mind to the way I walk, one foot on the road and one beached tree trunk for a cow’s hoof in the grass. Come.

Come into the forest, deep into the forest where the trees are tall and thick and no one will hear you scream as you are lost and fall down a ravine.

Listen, I need you, handsome young soul, to keep my own beautiful. I feed off your fear and lostness and fall.

Listen I’m happy to own my own narrative again. They call me La Jablesse- she-devil.

Listen, I say, I’m a woman in control of who she be and who she chooses to take to forest, to bed, and to death.

The Body As Memory

The Object of My Gaze, on going project by Marcia Michael.

This body is the site of memory.

Riddled with shame and mystery.

Stories hidden like oysters

to be prised open from reluctant

lips and hands and hearts.

This broad brown back bares

history’s heavy weight.

Shame folding in on itself

for what we have no control over.

This body is stolen territory.

It’s gonna take the rest of our lives

to reclaim ownership.

To belong between this high

shine, bruised and batter flesh.

Part 2 – Exploring Rituals To Be More Present in My Life, Never Mind Writing

A poem can start with the sound of water falling onto my body. Allow it’s curious wet teeth to sink into my flesh, to pull out chucks of questions to fuel a conversations with myself, later. 

The ability to be present was a luxury my mother never had as she worked 3 jobs with her hand down toilets and fixed smile for the men with keys and brutal laughs. 

I claim the ability to be present. To allow my yearning for a past to awaken a future I will imagine, as I salver my arms and legs and belly, housing a familiar homesickness I’m not sure where from, with coconut oil. 

Turning cold hard oil, soft and warm against my skin, I reconstruct fragments of history, lost in colluded archives, and turn them into bleeding scars and pickled memories of somethings rather than nothings.

When I’m ready to forgive and understand, I’ll conjure Dad back from the dead, sit him down, and ask why he never ever mentioned love, in all his administering of disciplined care. 

Dressed, hair twisted and walking across green fields, and under cherry blossom, I swallow doubts to turn a phase over and over against the roof of my mouth, rewriting with each footstep. Slide stepping cliches, kicking around experimental metaphors. 

Or the poem could hit me full force when I walk into the coffee shop. Glasses steamed, journal in hand,  eyes on drinks board, but already knowing my order by heart, the table I’ll take – number 13, my lucky number.

Acting like the fugitive from my life, here, I steal time to soften my gaze and repurpose the image of  the sea into an open window that will startle you, dear reader, into a new perspective, into a new way of holding your mind and your heart towards yourself.

Part 1 – Rituals

A poem can start with the sound of water
Falling onto my body
Allow it’s curious wet teeth to sink into my flesh
pulling out chucks of questions to fuel a conversations with myself later

The ability to be present was a luxury my mother never had as she worked 3 jobs with her hands down toilets and grinning at men with keys and brutal tongues

I claim the ability to be present
To allow my yearning for a past
To awaken a future
as I salver my arms and legs with cocoa butter.

Bound up with Memory*

After Marcia Michael

My body has a yearning for the past. In this country, I am duped to believe and live as if we were nothing .

Nothing until they allowed us into existence. Nothing until they opened their arms, and allowed us to carry on being their slaves into the 21st century.

Search and recovery, my body reclaims her history.
My mother transported it on her skin, buried in the stomach of the ship, boat, truck.

My father carried it in his voice, trapped in the belly of the ship, train, coffin.

I cannot rely on any colonial archives for finding me and my people. Now or in the future.

Colluded, concealed, constructed, the archives have fabricated the narrative that sees we as other.

Reduce us to a footnote, a scar, a tear.

My body is my archive.
My presence is a testimony.

My imagination will do the rest.

*Quote from Toni Morrison 


The Object of My Gaze, on going project by Marcia Michael. Me Remembering you – transformations, 2021

Bitterly cold but fun

The day dawns bright after the rain. It’s an opportunity not to be missed. Now we’re into October, how many days like this will we get to enjoy.

The man with his two dogs says it’s 4 degrees. I ask him, the air or the sea as we grin like school kids on an outing to the seaside.

The temperature of the air. The sea is much colder, it’s bitterly cold. He says.

And I agree as I take to the sea and the waves crash in and recede with a dragging undertow. No chance of swimming today. Too wild. But I’m fine just jumping waves and squealing. I get all childish with the sea. All inhibitions go out the window and pure joy takes up space in my whole being.

5-10 minutes of jumping and waves bursting over my head and I’m ready to meet my day