Price We Pay for the Sun

These islands
not picture postcards
for unravelling tourist
you know
these islands real
more real
than flesh and blood
past stone
past foam
these islands split

my mother’s breasts
like sleeping volcanoes
who know
what kinda sulph-furious
cancer tricking her
while the wind
constantly whipping
my father’s tears
to salty hurricanes
and my grandmothers croon
sifting sand
water mirroring palm

Poverty is the price
we pay for the sun girl
run come.

from The Fat Black Woman’s Poems (Virago, 1984) © Grace Nichols 1984, used by permission of the author c/o Curtis Brown literary agency.

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1To My Coral Bones

2In My Sea-House

3Our Cassandra

4Old Cane-Cutter At Airport


6Footprints of My Arrival


8One Continent/ To Another



11Sugar Cane

12Like A Flame

13Night is Her Robe


15Old Magic

16In my Name

17This Kingdom


19Price We Pay for the Sun

20Praise Song for My Mother

21Like A Beacon

22Island Man


24Wherever I Hang

25The Assertion

26The Fat Black Woman’s Motto on Her Bedroom Door

27The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping

28Tropical Death


30Thoughts drifting through the fat black woman’s head while having a full bubble bath

31Small Questions Asked by the Fat Black Woman

32Sleeping Out


34Sun is Laughing

35Come on Into My Tropical Garden

36Wha Me Mudder Do

37Granny, Granny Please Comb My Hair

38For Forest

39Hurricane Hits England