‐ Home of the Best in Caribbean & Black British Writing ‐

Khadijah Ibrahiim writes about loss for Magma 75

Day One / Deliverance & Day Two / Burial Rites
by Khadijah Ibrahiim

Day One/ Deliverance

That morning…April/rain came

—-Hurricane heavy with word of death

We/half a/Wake

—-Rollin’ last night’s flex of sleep out of dozy eyes

—-From a weary 17 hours bus
—-journey to Santiago

We/promised

—-That day/to swim/ in de saltiness
—-Santiago de Cuba/sea

—-But…

That morning… she died

—-so…

We/did not

—-Breakfast/ our stomach pot full of grief

We/douse

—-de ground with liquid morning
—-communion cane juice rum

—-set up/de dead/to journey/in

—-disbelief…

We/blew

—-smoke of a Santero Blanco
—-rum/dipped/cigar to de sky spirits

—-it was gifted to us by polished
—-ebony/white/suited orisha man

We/danced

—-All evening with him/the day

—-Before…

That morning… the phone rang

—-deliverance came/mournful
—-words/ unlike/ the sweetness
—-of sanatoria canticles

We/listen to the/reggae/roots/rock riddims

—-‘We’ll be for ever loving Jah’

—-Our psalm…

We/ sat/ calm

—-head to head natty wrapped in/the sadness of
—-we/ bodies

—-he/a lonely blues beating boat/ out at sea,
—-me/a gentle wave/rocked him back
—-softly/to the riddim of grief

That morning…

We/cried

—-a measure of pain/unknown

—-She’s dead…

—-She/died/She/his sister.

We/in mourning

—-Travelled…

That morning

—-All day n night/the long arm road
—-from Santiago-to-Havana/to bury the dead

—-The next morning

—-with no set up/nine night ceremony or song

—-just we/and our father’s
—-prayer

Day Two/ Burial Rites

Today she lay dead so/

—-in ah light blue canvas casket,
—-cotton white/burial dress
—-ah slight silky soft coco brown smile

—-last cigarette burning ritual/coffee/limp flowers
—-curl sad/ in the sweat of Havana’s heat
—-placed…

dead rites/

—-a space/for the living/cloudy/bereaved
—-eyes want to resurrect her
—-back/to break an aching silence

her dead bed/

—-What a way dem move so fast/crossing
—-self at the threshold/sweep clean/fold away
—-her belongings

where is the calabash/

—-Esu/Oya/Oshun priests
—-herbs/shells n honey dew

—-water…

—-to invoke/ her name
—-invoke/ spirit
—-invoke/ her

To pour her/ sweet n tender

—-by the riverside

—-instead…

We lay her/

—-with two others in a tomb
—-no/graveside hymns
—-no/call and response

That day we/

—-paused/sipped water
—-in remembrance of her

More information

This poem was originally published in Magma 75: The Loss Issue, edited by Adam Lowe and Yvonne Reddick.

Listen to Khadijah reading the poems at the Magma website.

Khadijah Ibrahiim was born in Leeds of Jamaican parentage. Educated at the University of Leeds, she is a literary activist, theatre maker and published writer, who combines’ inter-disciplinary art forms to re-imagine poetry as performance theatre.

Photo by Silvestri Matteo

Share this article

‐ Home of the Best in Caribbean & Black British Writing ‐