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madameber May 17
your heart grows two sizes,
beats in your throat and echoes
up and down your tear ducts,
your words come out concrete,
and you’re not surprised
when he asks if you’re made of stone.
he doesn’t know the wells
of your youth were always dry,
that the drought began
long before he came along.

they call you empty.
what else would you call
a well without any water?
they say look, nothing’s there.
your heart grows three sizes
and the lump in your throat
breaks apart into rocks
that line your weary walls,
gravel fills your chest
but they’re only looking for water.

he tells you water is life,
that the cracks in your
foundations look thirsty.
you open your mouth to speak
but your words are palpitations
and he doesn’t recognise
the sound of your heartbeat.
he asks you how long it’s been
since you were alive.
you ask him when he thinks you died.

your heart is huge,
astronomical, and your thoughts
burst like fireworks from your chest,
fallen stars called home,
they burn holes into the night,
find their place in the spaces
between the constellations,
they would guide him
if only he would look.

eyes shut, he wishes for rain.
madameber Mar 19
i wanted to visit my ancestors,
so i stepped up to the gate.
i was told “You must be
/this/ dark to be let into this space,
see, there aren’t many people
here we can match
up to your face,
and by the look of your skin
we couldn’t be certain
you’ve ever felt the sun’s grace,
we’ve seen many colours
but you are another,
do you really belong in this place?”

i wanted to visit my ancestors,
so i stepped up to the door.
i was told “You must be
/this/ light to walk onto our shores,
see, we saw your curls and thought
Black Pete had come up
from the moors,
and you're familiar,
but that foreign tongue’s
taken several points off your score,
we were only one colour,
can’t cope with any others,
so what are you coming to us for?”

i wanted to visit my ancestors
but i wasn’t sure where to go.
they’d shut me out, left me in doubt,
and i was in limbo.
i thought i’d had a birthright,
some kind of claim to make,
i didn’t think that i would be
so easy to forsake.
i hadn’t convinced the ghosts,
and there was nothing left for me,
so i packed my things, tore my branch down,
and went to sow my own tree.
i need italics.
madameber Oct 2019
Sit down and watch me
Bend over backwards
And sideways, dividing my body
Into diamond shapes, I know
I started off a little square,
Just a little worse for wear,
But I could make you smile.
Patterned pretty, I was made
To please the eyes,
And I caught yours, and
You held mine,
But something about me
Wasn’t quite right, I’m sure,
Got boring, I’m sure,
After a while my patterns
Weren’t pleasing anymore, and
I couldn’t make you smile.
I know I started off a little square
But I’ve learned how to multiply,
Fold up all that I am
And divide into different shapes,
Make no mistake, I could become
Anything for you.
I learned how to be
A crane, a swan, a star,
Learned to ignore the pain
And stretch myself out farther
Than I ever had before,
Trying to be something more
Delicate, more intricate, pushing
My body to try new things,
Trying to fly with paper wings.
Even as my patterns lock
Out of place and new and old
Creases contort my face,
Watch, my love, I'll twist
Into new shapes, all that I am
Is yours to remake,
And - Why are you apologising?
I don’t understand
Why you'd start trying
To untangle my limbs,
Open me back up into an
Empty square that wasn’t enough.

I’ll sit down, too,
I guess, even though my corners
Look a mess, lines hanging crooked,
Pretty patterns depressed,
But you’ll hold me, anyways,
Close to your breast,
And you’ll smile.
I try to, as well,
But traces of past shapes
Press against the corners
Of my lips,
And I wonder if
I can still smile, too.
with a little more.
madameber Jul 2019
under the red moon
we walked the same
dreamscapes, you
and i shared our
thoughts beneath its
light, our words whispered
red into the air, it
kissed your lips and
told you stories of
the heroes in the stars
while they crept
closer to the moon,
seeking out its warmth.
the stories hadn’t
mentioned how cold
it was up there,
but their lips quivered
and their words whispered
white into the air.

under the red moon
we lived the same
dreamscapes, we
knew it was only
temporary, a state
of mind, but there
we were at one
with each other,
here i could speak
to the stars
and i didn’t want
to leave them all
alone, i knew the
biting cold of the
black night sky,
knew what the trick
of time sought to hide
with its skirts, what
the heroes sought to hide
behind its masks but
you pulled at my arm
and told me it was
time to go.  

under the red moon
i offered my sun
to the stars,
there was a hole in
the sky and i thought
i might fit, i held
my hand out to you,
told you to come with
me, that they were
so cold, their fires
long gone out,
their light decaying,
bodies fragmented
from a time long ago
when heroes walked
outside of dreams,
but you weren’t
interested in dreams
when you had somewhere
else to be.

under the red moon,
i watch you
walk the dreamscapes,
the stars cling to me
seeking my warmth,
and i look down
from the evening sky,
whispering red into
the air, telling you
stories from the sky,
they listen, and
sometimes i think
you do too.
madameber Jul 2019
i have lain here
for nights on end
trying to make sense of the stars

mama never did teach
me how to read
the patterns in the skies,
what reason did i have
to look up
when the fairy lights
we hung
were so pretty
if i wanted constellations
i could take a pen
and map out the spots
on my skin

mama never did teach
me how to dream,
what need could there be
when hers were already
big enough for
the both of us
to share
i could look up
and count the stars
in her night skies
and never worry about
my own

mama never did teach
me how to walk
tall, keep my back up
straight, with her chin
raised high she
looked right past
my crooked posture
and in to
her future,
i stood straight
in her visions,
it was all she needed
to see

i think she tried
i think she gave it
her best
i think she gave her
self better
and i’m still trying to make
sense of the stars
unsure of whose they are
madameber Jun 2019
you may not realise it
but you’ve stepped into new lands
and life is different here
you are different here

you’d thought the sun
had kissed you before
but it did not love you
like it did this place
the people here had
felt its arms wrapped
around their bodies
for generations,
its light imprinted in
their skin like melanin,
the same light
you’d seen shine
from your mother’s hands

you’d thought the sun
had kissed you once before
but you were different,
your light was dimmer,
harder to recognise
and even the sun wasn’t
sure you were its kin,
had to look twice
before it realised
your blood but you
remained a stranger
all the same

the way you talk is wrong
your words too delicate
your voice too soft
your speech without music

you’d thought your tongue
was universal, had been
both understood and mis before,
but you were the cub of a lioness
and didn’t know how to roar,
no pride would take
you in when you
mewled like a kitten
and no sunlight shone
from your skin

you’d thought your tongue
was no different to
your mother’s, but hers
never worked the same
when you spoke it,
never quite connected
to its audience, so
you stopped trying,
turned to the moon instead
and gave it your confession
the only way you knew how,
it told you you spoke just fine

you think somewhere else
things will be different
you don’t remember
it has always been this way

your family never once
pointed out the intricacies
of your branches to you,
why you matched neither
your father’s roots nor your
mother’s veins, but had blossomed
something different, something new,
and why that would ever matter,
your family never thought
about these things, never
talked about such things,
they just wanted you
to speak plain

your family never once
explained how home would
be new to you, how home
wouldn’t really be like home
after all, because home didn’t
welcome you like it should have,
didn’t greet you right, hold you
tight in its arms and make you feel
like you belonged, because you
were different, and it didn’t
recognise you for a moment
or two

you may not realise it
but you’ve stepped into new lands
and life is different here
and you are different here
one to start a collection of self-reflection, perhaps, if it comes willingly
madameber Sep 2018
mothers, your mothers,
and great grandmothers,
join us in spirit this night
follow the sound of our voices,
seek our fire and its light.
we’ve summoned the flames
now we call out your names,
dear ancestors, hold on tight
to this blood which bonds us,
come forth from beyond as
the moon comes into sight.
daughters, sisters gathered close,
bring forth the herbs
you treasure most
for these women
we have come to host,
we’ll roll their hearts’ delight
and ease the burden on their bones
as we carry on their fight
they’ll guide us, advise us,
stand their ground beside us
while we reclaim our birthright,
a world in which we rule the day
just as we rule the night.

the fifth poem
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