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“remedies for cross Atlantic dispersion” by Melissa Davidson, from Arc’s 2020 Shortlist

“remedies for cross Atlantic dispersion” by Melissa Davidson


 

remedies for cross Atlantic dispersion

lime juice for the throat
parsley for the swelling
fresh ganga soaked in over proof white rum then rubbed on the chest
Spalding’s hearsay says my grandmother left her breath at discovery bay

she never swam balcony and oxygen
likkle but she tallawa lord man sit down

I trace my mother’s back to Choueifat
mountain trailed sanctuaries from the war
11 Azan children rise from stonemason and pita

Azan
meaning a call to prayer
meaning olive groves
or picking or betting
on boats to the Caribbean
rosary baggage and rosewater
boil and steep bush mint for nausea
we lost our Arabic when we traded coastlines
we make do hummus with
lime juice mint country pepper

my grandfather saved my grandmother in the flood of 1950
makeshift raft in cave valley waters hurricane jig ready-made poetry
Kingston hearsay says they cleared dance-floors
they ran hardware and haberdashery stockpiled a shelf life of
his mannish water her cerasee tea
he was trust she was patience
crack an egg into wincarnis tonic wine for soon come prosperity

5 sister daughters
catch peenie wallies in glass jars
stock the medicine cabinet inside of myself
my mother saves her girlhood in a country much colder though hip motion rib tension accent strongest on the telephones chicken neck bones fruit peel lullabies
small town boys party tricked her
Jamaica
for the servitude of womeness is to cut in the direction away from yourself
she still paints canker sores in gentian violet
wines in riddim to Patti Smith
speaks about an island like arms reach not outskirts
we smuggle
sugar cane
mangos
breadfruit
busta manti
tamarind
in suitcases
in somewhere
I am an island

my ebb is all baseline salty-inspired thirst
my shoreline a clothesline for loved-ones skin
where auntie’s star float and sink their bitterness
laying down a mattress on the back of a pickup truck
surfing the asphalt drive to the beach
leaning against chain link fence in
halter top low cut denim and arms crossed for the kodak
making their way out of aunt Esmines into the dancehalls
making it back home in time for the morning mass
the greater the matriarch the bigger the swell

I allow myself to picture-book the distance
white plastic porch chairs and church baking
coiled metal rods on windows
green leather guard dogs
dominos calamine lotion
cousins catholic guilt anything swallowed can be
cod liver oil cleaned apply mercurochrome for
cuts deepest
benjamins bay rum for any kind of ache even
loss
or leftovers
or dehydration

 


 

Mia Morgan on “remedies for cross Atlantic dispersion”

Melissa Davidson’s “remedies for cross Atlantic dispersion” perfectly displays the sensory memories of an identity rooted in the richness of diaspora. Tracing family lines from the Middle East to Jamaica through natural remedies, this poem finds its healing power in the cultural patterns which spiral from generation to generation.

 


 

Melissa Davidson is a Queer diasporic writer and mover, with lineage form Lebanon to Jamaica to Canada. They compete in local and International slam competitions like CUPSI and FEMS. Melly is a street-dancer and artist educator. They currently live in Tkaronto. Above all, they wish to emote the good kinds of sticky.