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


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


That morning… she died


We/did not

—-Breakfast/ our stomach pot full of grief


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

—-set up/de dead/to journey/in



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

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


—-All evening with him/the day


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…


—-a measure of pain/unknown

—-She’s dead…

—-She/died/She/his sister.

We/in mourning


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

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

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


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

To pour her/ sweet n tender

—-by the riverside


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




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