10/28/2012

A Prayer for My Children, by Geoffrey Philp

I am sharing another Geoffrey Philp poem, "A Prayer for My Children" from his collection, DubWise (Peepal Tree Press) 2011. 

A Prayer for My Children

When you find yourself in a faraway land
surrounded by men, animals that mutter strange
sounds, do not be afraid: neither you, your parents,
nor your ancestors have ever been alone.
So trust the earth to bear you up, follow
the wind as it leads you through valleys
clustered with trees heavy with fruit –
some that seem familiar enough to eat,
but you still aren’t sure they are the same
 as the ones you left on the other side
of the river that you’ve now forgotten.

Eat. Feast on the bounty. Feed the fire
that burns away the knot in your stomach,
sets ablaze the horizon, all that your eyes
can see – that has been promised to you
since your cry pierced the morning air:
your parents bathed you with kisses,
baptized you with caresses,
swaddled you in care before you uttered
your first words to the moon, sun, stars,
wobbled your first steps into unknowing –
all the while rising into your inheritance.

And if you awaken under the branches of a cotton tree,
cradled in its roots, draw a circle around yourself
 and all those whom you love, cross
yourself three times before you step
over the threshold. Welcome the ancestors,
all the kindly spirits who have followed you,
your parents across many seas, oceans,
and deserts; entertain them with strong drink
and soft food: rice, yams, bananas, the ever
present rum to bless the hands that have lifted
you up, and sanctified the place you now call home.

Copyright 2011 Geoffrey Philp. Reprinted with author's permission.

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