Lorna Goodison, Nanny

My womb was sealed
with molten wax
of killer bees
for nothing should enter
nothing should leave
the state of perpetual siege
the condition of the warrior.

From then my whole body would quicken
at the birth of everyone of my people’s children.
I was schooled in the green-giving ways
of  the roots and vines
made accomplice to the healing acts
of Chainey root, fever grass and vervain.

My breasts flattened
settled unmoving against my chest
my movements ran equal
to the rhythms of the forest.

I could sense and sift
the footfall of men
from the animals
and smell danger
death’s odour
in the wind’s shift.

When my eyes rendered
light from the dark
my battle song opened
into a solitaire’s moan
I became most knowing
and forever alone.

And when my training was over
they circled my waist with pumpkin seeds
and dried okra, a traveller’s jigida
and sold me to the traders
all my weapons within me
I was sent, tell that to history.

When your sorrow obscures the skies
other women like me will rise.


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