We crawled out of barrels postmarked St. Lucia,
cut the seams of our old skin,
but by then we were purple with memory,
our fingers curved in fear, we couldn’t
grip the soil of this new country.
We built an island in the two-by-four kitchen,
with its leaking-gas stove
and no-curtain window exposing
the white lace of winter.
We ate roots, dasheen, yam, cassava
boiled, pounded, and mashed.
Our daughter kept moving: Spain, Peru,
Canada, and Benin; I’m trying to forget,
she said on the phone, somewhere in Madrid,
her hackles raised, her spine curved
locked and longing for a dark space,
as if she could dig out
whole chunks of sea and bush
drum and chac-chac, turnover and mauby drink,
and her grandmother’s voice, ish mwen, vini, vini la,
and fill in the holes with some other place—
• • •
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CATHERINE ESTHER COWIE was born on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and has lived in Canada and the U.S. Esther is a graduate of the 2017 Callaloo Writing Workshop, and her writing has appeared in the Penn Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Forklift, Ohio, Flock Literary Journal, and Moka Magazine, with new works forthcoming in Potomac Review and Portland Review. Recently she graduated from the Pacific University low-residency MFA program. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.