Where Is She ::: Koté Li Yé
Long ago I met a beautiful boy Together we slept in my mother's womb Now the street of our fathers rises to eat him :: Everything black is forbidden in Eden In my arms my brother sleeps, teeth pearls I give away the night so he can have this slumber :: I give away the man who made me white I give away the man who freed my mother I pry apart my skull my scalp unfurls :: I nestle him gray inside my brain, my brother sleeps and dreams of genes mauve lips fast against spine he breathes. The sky :: bends into my eyes as they search for his skin Helicopter blades invade our peace::: Where is that Black Where is it Where :: Blades slice, whine pound the cupolas I slide him down and out the small of my vertebrae He scurries down the bone and to the ocean :: navigates home in a boat carved of gommier When he reaches our island everyone is relieved though they have not forgotten me, belsé :: Where is your sister, eh? Whey? Koté belsé yé? Whey? Koté li yé Koté li yé To the sand To the stars on the sea Koté li yé Koté li yé To the one-celled egun To the torpid moon Koté li yé Koté li yé :: There::: Koté li yé drapes across a baton; glows electric in shine of taser; pumped dry with glass bottle; :: There::: Koté li yé vagina gape into the night; neck dangle taut with plastic bags and poorly knotted ropes; :: There::: Koté li yé belsé Koté? ::: I burn my skin shines blacker, lacquer ::: non-mwen sé flambó ashes tremble in the moonlight ::: sans humanité my smoking bones fume the future ::: pa bwè afwéchi pou lafiyèv dòt moun
Copyright © 2018 by r. erica doyle. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 25, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“I shared my mother’s womb with a brother and feel infinitely protective of him; the killings of black men at the hands of the state feels personal, as does working against the causes of this violence, and this poem acknowledges the labor of black women to uplift and protect their communities. Like many other black women in the United States, I, too, have been subjected to racial profiling by law enforcement and am deeply affected by the stories of sexual abuse and murder of women—particularly black, trans, and indigenous women—by those in power. I wrote this poem in solidarity with the #SAYHERNAME movement, which seeks to elevate and address the abuse of and violence against women by authorities. The poem asks, both in English and in Trinidadian French Patois—my grandmother’s native language —‘where is your sister?’ which reminds us to always ask about women and girls. It ends with a Patois proverb that translates roughly to ‘you cannot cure your own illness with the medicine of another’—reminding us that to address injustice, we must use a fine-grained, intersectional approach.”
—r. erica doyle
R. Erica Doyle
R. Erica Doyle is the author of proxy (Belladonna Books, 2013), winner of the Poetry Society of America’s 2014 Norma Farber First Book Award. She lives in Brooklyn.
Date Published: 2018-10-25
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/where-she-kote-li-ye