The Haunting of His Name

By 
Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné

—for my mothers

The man who loves you
is nothing but a ghost.
He walks through walls,
his name on your mouth like prayer.
His name is what you tell yourself
before you sleep, a short cry
in the stalk of your throat.
You keep him in the high slant
of your daughter’s bones,
in the years of yellowing guilt
tucked beneath your breasts.
Rainy mornings, you wake,
his rough hands rummaging
beneath your collarbone
for what’s left of your heart.
You clothe yourself in penitence,
wear your hair shorn,
your weapons in your mouth,
sharp and pointed.
You must not love him,
so you bind yourself
with hunger and smoke,
sing hard against
your body’s silence.
But he will not leave you,
keeps slipping through
your locked doors,
stealing the sound
from your mouth
before you speak. 
Once you stood here,
in this same garden,
brown eyes windswept
and new, knowing nothing
of anyone’s sin and shame.
The man who loves you
is a ghost to be washed
from the temple of your heart.
You must go into yourself now
with your one small fire,
burn down the haunting
of his name.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné is a writer and artist from Trinidad and Tobago. She has been published in Bim: Arts for the 21st CenturyAnthurium: a Caribbean Studies Journal, and other publications. Awarded the prize for First Time Publication by The Caribbean Writer, Danielle has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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