Jessica Thomas

The Winter I Complete my Thirty-Ninth Year

 

At last

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

© Falmouth and Exeter Students' Union