Tanya Shirley


Iíve now become an unwilling seer
who will grow old and appear
to be a shaman to the unbelievers;
a tattered woman who smells
of feculent potions.

My mother could see from the back
of her head, the enemy approaching.
She deciphered the codes of dreams
and scared children with her prophecies
of parents drowning.

I decided long ago I would never
grow into her. To be sure, I slept
with one eye open and never ate past six
in the evening: full belly causes dreaming.
Dreams give deep meaning.
But still the curse chose me
and I see:

water means longing;
the long buried relative visiting the living
is old dead come for new dead;
lizards are enemies or pregnancy;
a wedding is a death; a funeral a birth;
a fish means thereíll soon be a baby;
shit is money and prosperity.

Already I know too much.
It will kill me to give this up.
Dead people breathe down my neck.
Their bones creak when I roll over in my sleep.
Last week my man left.
I do not remember his name or how we met.
I belong to the land of my mother and look behind.


Taken from the book
She Who Sleeps With Bones

She Who Sleeps With Bones

ISBN: 9781845230876
Price: £7.99
Pages: 76

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