About the poet
James Berry (b. 1924) spent his childhood in a village in Jamaica, before working in the United...
Showing the creature I landed
I slipped from my mother's womb
flesh connected, laced in a blood-spatter.
My father waited with a bottle of rum.
The moon floated somewhere.
The sea drummed and drummed our coastline.
Mullets darted in wooded steams.
A good night to end our labour - Saturday.
The country-midwife held me up,
'Look. Is yu third boy child!'
My mother asked, 'Him all right?'
'Yes - all eyes, all ears.
Yes - all hands, all feet.'
My mother whispered, 'Thank God.'
My granny said, 'My Jim-Jim.
My husband! You come back?'
all around the village.
In the sun's hot eye
my umbilical cord was dressed
with wood ash, castor oil and nutmeg
and buried under a banana-sucker.
There, a tree made fruits, all mine.
from Hot Earth Cold Earth (Bloodaxe 1995), copyright © James Berry 1995, used by permission of the author.
James Berry Reading from his poems