Poem: “The Breasts of the Sea” by Syl Cheney–Coker

After our bloody century, the sea will groan under its weight, somewhere between breasts and anus. Filled with toxins,

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The Breasts of the Sea 1

After our bloody century, the sea will groan
under its weight, somewhere between breasts and anus.
Filled with toxins, her belly will not yield new islands
even though the children of East Timor wish it so.

The sea is only capable of so much history:
Noah's monologue, the Middle Passage's cargoes,
Darwin's examination of the turtle's shit,
the remains of the Titanic, and a diver's story
about how the coelacanth was recaptured.
Anything else is only a fractured chela
we cannot preserve, once the sea's belly
has washed itself clean of our century's blight.

Throbbing, the sea's breasts will console some exiles,
even those shut out of Australia, drifters on a tired moon
but Sierra Leone won't be worth a raped woman's cry,
despite her broken back, this shredded garment,
her hands swimming like horrors of red corals.
But do you, O Sea, long-suffering mistress,
have the balm to heal the wound of her children,
hand to foot the axe, alluvial river flowing into you?

— Syl Cheney–Coker
  1. Source: Stone Child and Other Poems (a 2008 poetry collection by Syl Cheney-Coker). ↩︎

Read: Analysis of Syl Cheney-Coker’s “The Breasts of the Sea”

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