- Island Liturgy II
… woman black grief of grave islandsand griefblack mothers of loss of alland one child, first, second, all bournehere unwillingly with no wheres else to growwho grasp the hallowed of brown cardboard grips filled with wintervests, black cheeks ruddy with never seen frosttwisty and twirly, g.c.e. passports, clothing pinned to notesnotes pinned to heads filled with blackie’s tropical goin abroad,big country ambition, thermogene, tiger balm and soft candle—rub down well at night you see and make something of yourself—remember the soles of your feet and don’t take cold—and the elsewheres of to long for something better thatup and up fills the against heart beating with elizabethraleigh and alfred changing the guard, burning his cakesand our bridges to memory; the out pushing in squeezingheart valved against the securing rain, the blood heatsun the hambone of the devil and his fighting wifepicong mauvais langue and parangto bathe easy in the rains of childhood oiled and skin-smooth with laughteroak for coconut apples for orangeswho said exchange was no robberyWhat did we take with us but the desire to leaveO graved islands of griefblack women and memory if places could grieve! … [End Page 32]
M. NourbeSe Philip was born in Trinidad & Tobago and completed her undergraduate education at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. She later received degrees in political science and law at the University of Western Ontario, and practiced law until 1983. Widely known for her literary innovations and experimentations, she is author of five books of poetry, two novels, four books of essays, and two dramas, of which Zong! (poetry, 2008) and Harriet’s Daughter (drama, 2000) are her most recent. Harriet’s Daughter was originally published as a novel by Heinemann in the UK in 1988. She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks won her the Casa de las Américas Prize for poetry (Cuba) in 1998. She has also received a number of grants, fellowships, and awards for her other work—e.g., a Chalmers Fellowship in Poetry, a McDowell Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation residency in Bellagio (Italy), and a Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry. She lives in Canada.