The Winter I Complete my Thirty-Ninth Year
when my boobs sag freely,
when my curves fall into the shapes, I fear I see in my mum
I shall meet my mum under the sunless abyss of the oak
where once the surfaced roots collided against the willow
legs of running young girls and me.
Such collisions that happened frequently,
where the words of Uncle Albert not only lingered but resided
in the breeze and the crash of the rattling thick leaves.
Free! the very word is like a summer morning pouring
onto me as if the sprinkle of a vision strengthened the mulberry petals from the orchid that
only blossomed when mum turned forty.
No longer does the jagged rustic blade that once collapsed
upon our hearts drip the lineage of women who did not see spring.
no longer do occasional men blunt the edges of my solitude
no longer can my spine bear the weight of aunts lost to Albert.
“A free woman?” Albert would cackle in laughter,
once the sharp and dense sound of shrieking oak leaves
but now his words fade like a forlorn anthem,
a whistling wind passing through the meadow
now where I reside, my own sturdy oak tree,
whose neck tries from looking down at the
white willowed birch arms of Albert.
Instead his whistle vibrates off my branches passing
the sunburnt bank of a river, red currant bushes
and three-toed woodpeckers – suspending
between the valley where the sun has dropped
a bright vision where now I am my mum,
no longer playing with words but cultivating an orchid.
At last when my hairless eyebrows form a permanent frown
when lines of age suffocate my face
when my black skin hangs underneath my drooping eyes
like the seas that swell and curve, I shall be free.
- Jessica Thomas