Quasheba’s Lament

I taste my own salt blood / and remind myself I am still alive

Grey scale portrait of Lorna Goodison against a pink background.

I know how to abase, I know how
to abound. How to press my big toe
aground and bite my tongue.

I taste my own salt blood
and remind myself I am still alive
and there is hope while there is life.

I knot up my belongings in my bundle;
you send and say is not my time yet.
I loosen the knot and I wait.

I calculate the silver money I save up
in a shutpan I bury underground
till the day my day of freedom come.

And every day I bend down and draw
in the dirt, O Jesus, I draw a straight
line that lead to freedom come.

I draw my own house with a front door.
I forge my lock and key. I turn the key.
I lock me inside until such time as I leave.

Lorna Goodison
Poet Laureate of Jamaica from 2017 to 2020 and the winner of the 2019 Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, Lorna Goodison lives in Halfmoon Bay, British Columbia. Her new book is Mother Muse.

Join our community

Here’s why illustrator and designer Lauren Tamaki wants you to support The Walrus:

Black and white photo of Lauren Tamaki"My latest work for The Walrus was a portrait that accompanied a review of Sheila Heti's new book, Pure Color. I love collaborating with the art directors at The Walrus because I always know the result will be spectacular." - Lauren Tamaki

For only $5 per month, you can support the work of The Walrus online. All supporters will receive a complimentary tote bag, gain access to exclusive updates, and join the community that powers the work we do.

Be part of The Walrus.
Monthly donations receive a charitable tax receipt.