And Over Every Land and Sea

Marlene Nourbese Philip, She Tries Her Tongue. Her Silence Softly Breaks.


Meanwhile Proserpine’s mother Ceres, with panic in her heart vainly

sought her daughter over all lands and over all the sea.*


Questions! Questions!


Where she, where she, where she

be, where she gone?

Where high and low meet I search,

find can’t, way down the islands’ way

I gone – south:

day-time and night-time living with she,

down by the just-down-the-way sea

she friending fish and crab with alone,

in the bay-blue morning she does wake

with kiskeedee and crow-cock –

skin green like lime, hair indigo-blue,

eyes hot like sunshine-time;

grief gone mad with crazy – so them say.

Before the questions too late,

before I forget how they stay,

crazy or no crazy I must find she.


As for Cyane, she lamented the rape of the goddess...

nursing silently in her heart a wound that none could

heal ...


Adoption Bureau


Watch my talk-words stride,

like her smile the listening

breadth of my walk – on mine

her skin of lime casts a glow

of green, around my head indigo

of halo – tell me, do

I smell like her?

To the north comes the sometimes

blow of the North East trades –

skin   hair   heart   beat

and I recognize the salt

sea   the yet   else   and ... something

again knows sweat   earth

the smell-like of I and she

the perhaps blood lost –


She whom they call mother, I seek.



It would take a long time to name the lands and seas over which the

goddess wandered. She searched the whole world – in vain ...




She gone – gone to where and don’t know

looking for me looking for she;

is pinch somebody pinch and tell me,

up where north marry cold I could find she –

Stateside, England, Canada – somewhere about,

“she still looking for you –

try the Black Bottom – Bathurst above Bloor,

Oakwood and Eglinton – even the suburbs them,

but don’t look for indigo hair and

skin of lime at Ontario Place,

or even the reggae shops;

stop looking for don’t see and can’t –

you bind she up tight tight with hope,

she own and yours knot up in together;

although she tight with nowhere and gone

she going find you, if you keep looking.”



When kindly day had dimmed the stars, still she sought her daughter

from the rising to the setting son. She grew weary with her efforts and

thirsty too ...


The Searcb


Up in the humpback whereabouts-is-that hills,

someone tell me she living – up

there in the up-alone cocoa hills of Woodlands,

Moriah, with the sky, and self, and the bad bad of grieving;

all day long she dreaming about wide black nights,

how lose stay, what find look like.

A four-day night of walk bring me

to where never see she:

is “come, child, come,” and “welcome” I looking –

the how in lost between She

and I, call and response in tongue and

word that buck up in strange;

all that leave is seven dream-skin:

sea-shell, sea-lace, feather-skin and rainbow-flower,

afterbirth, foreskin and blood-cloth –

seven dream-skin and crazy find me.

* opening quotations are from Ovid’s Metamorphoses (transl. Mary M. Innes).