Literary Zone

Poetry-The Breast of the Sea

9 July 2019 at 18:57 | 6306 views

The Breast of the Sea

By Syl Cheney-Coker, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

After our bloody century, the sea will groan
under its weight, somewhere between breasts and anus.
Filled with toxins, her belly will not yield new islands
even though the orphans of East Timor wish it so.
The sea is only capable of so much history:
Noah’s monologue, the Middle Passage’s cargoes,
Darwin’s examination of the turtle’s shit,
the remains of the Titanic, and a diver’s story
about how the coelacanth was recaptured.
Anything else is only a fractured chela
we cannot preserve, once the sea’s belly
has washed itself clean of our century’s blight.
Throbbing, the sea’s breasts will console some orphans,
but Sierra Leone won’t be worth a raped woman’s cry,
despite her broken back, this shredded garment,
her hands swimming like horrors of red corals.
But do you, O Sea, long-suffering mistress,
have the balm to heal the wound of her children,
hand to foot the axe, alluvial river flowing into you?

*Syl Cheney-Coker (photo), is a Sierra Leonean poet and novelist, born 28 June 1945 in Freetown. He was born to Christian Creole parents in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Having received his early education in Sierra Leone, at the age of twenty-one he went to the United States to pursue post-secondary education at the Universities of Oregon and Wisconsin and also worked for a time as a journalist.
He has taught at universities in the Philippines, Nigeria and the U.S. and served as editor and publisher of a fortnightly newspaper, the Vanguard, in Freetown in the late 1980s and early 1990s.