I My ancestors are nearer than albums of pictures I tread on heels thrust into broken-down slippers II My mother’s womb impulsed harvests perpetually. She deeply breathed country air when she laboured me. III The pattern woven by my father’s hands lulled me to sleep. Certain actions moved me so: my father planting. When my father planted his thoughts took flight. He did not need to think. The ritual was ingrained in the blood, embedded in the centuries of dirt beneath his fingernails encased in the memories of his race. (Yet the whiplash of my father’s wrath rever- berated days in my mind with the inten- sity of tuning forks. He did not think. My mother stunned wept and prayed Father Forgive Them knowing not what she prayed for.) One day I did not pray. A gloss of sunlight through the leaves betrayed me so. Abstracted me from rituals. And discarded prayers and disproven myths confirmed me freedom. IV Now against the rhythms of subway trains my heartbeats still drum worksongs. Some wheels sing freedom. The others Home. Still, if I could balance water on my head I can juggle worlds on my shoulders.
* This was published in Olive’s first poetry book, Talking of Trees.