we weigh ourselves and all
that we will carry. wonder
what to lay down, what to keep.
what we should bear on our
backs, our brows, our buttocks.
what feasts to hide in breasts or
hollow places in our teeth. we
throw cargo to tide to lessen our
load. redeem the tissue, synapse,
marrow, womb. we are all trying to
leave our bodies behind. but they
find shore and field: ahoy, amen,
virgin and yielding. we tear the
crowns off fruit and share the
flesh — as we have seen; bleed
oranges, milk coconuts, porridge
island gold and hold the gaze of
black-eyed peas. we eat the root, the
rind, we hoard the husk. we store it in
our thighs, our hips, the corners of our lips,
the creases in the pits of our arms. the things
that we have seen swell the pupils, bloat the
blood, settle on noses, colonise cheek and jowl.
what molecular greed, what fearful gluttony.
what hesitant burn, what slow metabolism. we,
the soft on which the falling land: we dream
of diets, detoxes, cells plundered – but wake
up heavy, anchor, legion, hoard. we
measure the past in inches – not the
grains of rice we hid in our hair, not the
rains through which we prayed for a
failed harvest, not the nights when we
cut holes in bags of sugar, not the days
when we licked sea breezes for salt. or
how, when young but never small, we
pinched the fat that clung to us,
faithful through the field and mill
and press and fire and sack and sea
and overflowing vaults in banks as
eager as my cells to never be empty.
we pinched the offering ever ready to
burn itself on our altar. we wrestled
with the pyre that kept us alive.
[The phrase “we are all trying to leave our bodies behind” is borrowed from Toni Morrison’s Beloved.]
Isabelle Baafi is a writer and poet. She was shortlisted for the 2019 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition, was Commended in the 2020 Verve Poetry Competition, and is also a member of the London Library’s Emerging Writers Programme (2019-20). She is currently working on her debut poetry collection. WEB TWITTER INSTAGRAM