This poem is about my birth. My grandmother, my mother's mother, was at my birth - she gave me my name after her husband who had recently died in a sudden accident.

My Arrival


Showing the creature I landed
I slipped from my mother’s womb
flesh connected, laced in a blood-spatter.

My father waited with a bottle of rum.
The moon floated somewhere.
The sea drummed and drummed our coastline.
Mullets darted in wooded steams.

A good night to end our labour – Saturday.
The country-midwife held me up,
‘Look. Is yu third boy child!’
My mother asked, ‘Him all right?’

‘Yes – all eyes, all ears.
Yes – all hands, all feet.’
My mother whispered, ‘Thank God.’
My granny said, ‘My Jim-Jim.
My husband! You come back?’

I slept.
Roosters crowed
all around the village.

In the sun’s hot eye
my umbilical cord was dressed
with wood ash, castor oil and nutmeg
and buried under a banana-sucker.
There, a tree made fruits, all mine.

from Hot Earth Cold Earth (Bloodaxe Books, 1995), © James Berry 1995, used by permission of the author c/o PFD

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