musings on black history month


clarke2Our wanderings scar this great, green globe like keloid geography. For centuries we’ve criss-crossed this cobalt blue: backward and forward, north to south, circling for landing space. Our sea voyages scar the ocean’s memory like needle tracks, ruptured flesh. Here she sunk the bodies of desperate slaves, dragged to her murky sea bed by the muffled rattling of their ankle chains. Here sailed the Amistad, gently rocked to revolution, the ocean’s tears shining as she gently pushed the mutinied ship homeward. See here a mass black grave where a banana boat upturned on way to the new world, the too-few life boats on board assigned to first class white passengers. We have left a thousand homes: involuntarily, reluctantly, and now as eagerly and easily as if the up-and-run of it all were pure addiction.

Some nights I dream I’m ancient Africa, stretched out wide and deep centre-globe, cradling a people. On my lower left shoulder in southern Togo, with their mahogany faces caked with thick white clay-paint, the Anlo-Ewe people stamp thanks to the sky God Mawu-Lisa. The blood of young goats sinks warm and iron-filled into the sandy earth of villages of my decolletage.
Some nights I dream I am Africa, and the Songhay people are conjuring spirit Hauka which dance light-footed across the black earth ridges of my startled nipple, trapped inside the bucking bodies of taken tribes people. Village messengers, djembes slung across backs, gently drum their cryings up and down my ribcage, rocking me back to sleep. I dream I am ancient Africa and my history has no beginning. I dream I am forever, remembering more than centuries.

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian author and slam poet of Afro- Caribbean descent. Her short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the 2015 ABIA Award for Best Literary Fiction and the 2015 Indie Award for Best Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her memoir, The Hate Race, her poetry collection Carrying the World, and her first children’s book, The Patchwork Bike, will be published by Hachette in late 2016.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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