Three poems by Sarah Lubala

An Inheritance


I don’t remember how it began
with water or without?
with trembling or without?
satisfied or fainting?

How might we measure it?
the dregs of a season
one white confetti bush
the salt on your hands
an armchair
honeyed in winter light

Did we sigh for the ease of it?
Did we think ourselves free?

As though our mothers are not ghosts
As though this language is not
a haunting

There is a power in calling a thing by its proper name

Not ‘infidelity’
Let us say
a history of disappearance
Let us say
men forget their names

Not ‘a Black man hits his
Black wife’
Let us say
she is alone in a room
Let us say
she is a rose in bloom

What of your names?
he who came by water
and blood
bright edge of the knife
worn-knot of breath
bees in the throat


What to Say to the Immigration Officer When He Ask You Where You Are From

Say you left in a hurry
say the days stumbled
blind
say the high grasses
swallowed the raw-boned women
feeding babies
in the field

Say you were
twenty-two in all
say half were lost in
the first week
say you prayed to
die young
say you lived on
and on

Say the belly of the dry
season
say the lash of the earth
say you swallowed
whole countries
say you spit only ash


An Ode to Soap

here is
the breath
of paper wrapping

+++++++++++++++++++++the soft rustle
+++++++++++++++++of prayer

for the swelling
in the knees
for two small bruises
on the breast
for the air at first light
hungry and roaming

here is
the first clean bite
of mint
quince pear on the windowsill
the slow aria of vanilla
the notes so open
you could weave
the sweetness
in

here is
the white porcelain bowl
the daydream of water
skin the colour
of baked nectarines
in the bleached sea light

here is
the wet grass
the heaven
and the earth
the bright throat
of spring
yawning across
the sky

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