When I was young,
full and fierce as a hunter’s moon
I promised her I’d stay.
I swore I’d let no man take me
from the place where she fell,
forehead ablaze with forests
of fevered cocoa and burnt moths.
I wore charred wings in my hair
for weeks after she left,
I prayed to her in tongues
of wild grasses and deep water.
Still, he came, followed me
into the house’s dry cradle,
waning and weak
in the absence of her light.
He caught me by my grief’s throat,
blew smoke into my eyes
to tame me.
Some nights, I turn to face him,
her love lodged in my heart
like an antler.
I have embroidered her name
on my daughter’s left earlobe,
scratched it on the underside
of my best iron pots. I feed him
the burnt bodies of moths
when he is hungry, watch him
grow steadily heavier, stiller,
as solemn as timber.
Some mornings, my daughter’s face
is as gold and soft as sunlight.
I bless her in my mother’s tongue,
Wrap her in a shawl made from
tree roots and the grey wool
of young doves.
see how I’ve grown watery and thin
between these white walls.
Coal Mine is a mouthful of earth
in my memory, teeth against stone,
dry lips against water,
over and over again,
~ Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné
Danielle Boodoo Fortuné is a Trinidadian poet and artist.