Poem: Memories Have Tongue by Canadian Poet Afua Cooper

0 Posted by - May 23, 2021 - BLACK WOMEN, LATEST POSTS, Poems

Afua Cooper, one of Canada’s most versatile poets. Cooper was born in Westmoreland, Jamaica, she grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, and migrated to Toronto in 1980.

She holds a Ph.D. in African-Canadian history with specialties in slavery and abolition. Her dissertation, “Doing Battle in Freedom’s Cause”, is a biographical study of Henry Bibb, a 19th-century African-American abolitionist who lived and worked in Ontario. She also has expertise in women’s history and New France studies.

Memories Have Tongue

Afua Cooper
From:   Memories Have Tongue, Toronto: SisterVision Press, 1992.

My granny seh she have a bad memory
when I ask her to tell me
some of her life
Seh she can’t rememba much but
she did rememba di 1910 storm
and how dem house blow down
an dey had to go live wid her granny
down a bottom house

Seh her memory bad
but she memba that when her husband died
(both of them were t’irty)
she had t’ree little children
one in her womb, one in her arms, and one at her frocktail
she memba wem dem bury him her heart
buss up inside
dat wen di baby born
she no have no milk inna her breast

She memba how she wanted her daughta
to grow up an be a postmistress
but di daughta died at an early age
she point to the croton-covered grave
at di bottom of the yard

Seh her memory bad
but she memba
di riot
but what she memba most of all
is dat a pregnant woman was shot
and killed
by di soldiers

Chile, I ole now
my brain gaddarin water
but I memba as a young woman, I love to dance
and yellow was my favourite colour
It was mi husban fadda who ask fi mi han
di big people dem siddung outta hall and discuss
mi fadda agree
cause him seh
my fellow, your granfadda, was ‘an honourable person’

I memba how on my wedding day
di guests dem nearly eat off all di food
it was alright, doah
I was too nervous to eat anyway






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