My foremothers safeguard my stride, avoiding the fault lines of the

vulgar Earth, they placate the stacked tectonic plates.

We are uprooted and disjointed

Honest and disoriented

We are suspended by Oya’s whirlwind

Disguised as birds taken to flight

We are engrossed by Erzulie’s erotic love

Refreshed by the cool spring flowing down our backs

But we are not hidden

We howl at death and keep your soul intact

They whisper into my ears, boasting about their feats and defeats:

“I poisoned Master LeCroix that one time”

“I left Jean to die in the fields”

“I seduced Madame Johnson”

“Who do you think built the city of Nantes?”

“Have you heard the bellows of enslaved rage?”

Each foremother imparted the names of

their masters and their lovers

With the precision of Galileo’s telescopes

Their existence contradicting gentile sentiments

Each foremother different from the next with their flashy eyes

Some wicked, most bastards, all rebellious.

Their proverbs are curses and vexes,

An extension of their wide-mouth and tuneful lips

They are ordained by the Goddess, Yemaya

Crying for their children

Tears soaking the trembling ground

These women were never praised for their pride,

Rather, they were punished for telling lies

Their unwarranted sighs

Their thick thighs.

They dreamt of places that were not meant for them,

Procuring the strange fruit for an empire that enslaved them

Their secret is arrested by the despondent world

And it is carried by their many children: Monette, Christine, Moliette, Meloria, Jacqueline, Chrisnida, Joanna

But also, the names I never learned, could never learn,

because their foundation is cracked.

Contributed by

Edna Bonhomme


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