We Lived Long In The Mountains & Other Poems

Amara Amaryah

We lived long in the mountains

And in doing so, lost the sacred art of naming ourselves, again.
We no longer rise with the sun, forget that we’re of warm blood, of herbs that need                          
Heat, forget still to wrap our heads on the sabbath and to bathe the soles with oils:  
Lavender, rosemary, lemon balm to cast out what is sensed and
Unsaid. What we have had to learn is that we must mirror ourselves, our past, peoples
Out here where the trees do not know if we’re speaking that secret blended tongue or
Calling to them for witness, it’s the same as it was – longing,
                As we are used to. I seek the direction of home and a hummed fable finds me through
                The morning’s foreign friendliness. We arch towards it, the gaping hole in the chest of
                                   Who we were. When we come down the throat of the mountain, we see
                That we’ve made peace with the ancient green everywhere, how it reveres us, how it fights,
                Fears the awe, the guttural drumbeat of a voice, heavier above the sea & sober in knowing.

The duppy the dog sees

favours miss mel
holds her belly
too tight
already has
a name

the rosemary
bush cowers as
she drapes near
digs fingertips
into the earth
taking the root
from its living

she says
it is all
that stops
the nausea

forever at the
base of her throat
the drenched
voice of

the child
born to no

would have had
her grandfather’s
eyes three
generations later

sounds like shipwreck
like myth
              unwound itself
and jumped

to a time
undetected where
the sea is holy
they never go
and they never leave.

NADIR born of many mothers



Is the fourth
Mother NADIR has
Beyond here he has no place
Beyond here he knows not himself
Beyond this shore he is just his mother’s son

Hair braided softly 
Sweet boy
Lips too full for now
He is honest
You can see it in his face
Honest in that
He has not yet seen what it is 
He can do

In that
He is not a man still

This is why they 
Bathed him in salt water
Prayed over twice
Kissed the burning eyes 
Oh he does not cry
A nursing Songstress for a mother chanting to quicksand 
So open voweled is this language that we keep
Far away from him
We only sang the first song of the
World in his ear

Amara Amaryah is a Jamaican poet and essayist, born in London. Her writings are interested in voice – often voicelessness – and reclamations of identity through definitions of home. Her work has been received, translated and read internationally. ‘The Opposite of an Exodus’ is her debut pamphlet (Bad Betty Press, 2021).


*Image by Marc Babin on Unsplash

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