So hot my orange gown peels from my skin,
so good to leave chattering birds,
screeching monkeys, swirling red dust,
only the soft trickle of the water fountain here
amid the call to prayer, my soles cry out
from the heat of the tiles, for my sandals.
When I rub her pink skin with black soap
she becomes black , like me. I rub it all over
her, in every curve and crevice, circling,
I take my time. She becomes like a doll
to me, before I rinse her white again.
My blue haven, this blue tomb.
Her touch is sure, deft, sometimes
she is rough. She pounds sea salt
onto my skin, sometimes she rubs me
red raw, sometimes I let her.
One gasp from me she stops.
He bought me at fourteen. Gold earrings,
bangles, anklets hung on me, my skin
burnished with cocoa butter, he checked
my eyes, ears, mouth, that I was cut.
Four sons I have given him, two nights
in seven he comes to me, I am Umm Walad,
the Mother of his sons.
If I could just sit here, touching the hard
wood of this cage, my toes burning,
warm balm of her palms, sounds of her
rubbing, breathing, scrubbing filling
this chamber, before she drapes me
in towels, dries me, dresses me,
brings me to him.
Some nights I am back in Ujiji,
Mama is there and my brothers.
I am ten, my face painted red and white,
I am naked, wrist bound, waiting to be sold.
I dream still, of the long walks,the beatings,
the souk, the men. I am Umm Walad,
I curse her
Ger Duffy lives in Co Waterford, Ireland. Her poetry has been published by Slow Dancer Press (UK), In the Gold of the Flesh Anthology (UK), Voxgalvia (Irl), The Waxed Lemon (Irl), Cathal Bui selected Anthology 2021, Drawn to the Light Press (Pushcart nominee 2021), Southword (Irl) and Local Wonders Anthology, Dedalus Press (Irl). Her poem “My Fathers’ Hands” won 2nd Prize at the Goldsmiths Poetry Competition 2021, her poem “She asks for Mercy” was highly recommended in the Westival International Poetry Competition 2020. In 2021 she received a mentorship in poetry from The Munster Literature Centre (Irl).
The Ekphrastic Review
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