When we were five it began, sorting buttons into neat coloured piles

I drift among a mottled tribe, throbbing to marimba’s beat, chewing pap

Buckra eject me from their house, light reflected into black absorbing all

Kinless I cling my soul to you, small chimurenga of my flesh cleft inside

As from our swathing we unmerge, I can recognise my shape flows quite differently to yours

Restless we forage other lives, moths drawn back into the white bittersweet

Mending the rips in our tent, I settle by the salty marsh, where our tears ebb and blend

Singing as I teach you to bake bread, our voices fuse like yeast to dough

Otherness a spear in my heart, as you come home from school, place your skin next to mine

Mummy, if I scrub in the bath, can my black disappear? Can I just be the same?

Honey you are perfect as you are, in the skin God wrapped you in, umber sweet


Jane Chevous 2006.

For Jon, my precious chimurenga.


Pap: maize-meal porridge

Buckra: Afro-Caribbean term for white(s)

Chimurenga: Shona for struggle