Language & Writing

Ceremony

by Omotara James

How do I love1 this body?
Cradle it in gauze, like a third-
degree burn? My mother loves2 my fat
to be covered, specifically
the affected areas:
arms, belly, back, and thighs.
The darker the meat, the more
vulnerable to light. Her hands,
the first to sheathe and swaddle.
Her wrists, weaving the inaugural
spells. Her fingers, holding the spoon
I open my mouth to tell the story
of wound. Poem, I am lost inside you.
How do I begin, again? Wo counsels
to imagine the portal that leads home,
what it might look like. I think: sun.
I see: shadowy basement doorframe,
mandalas of mold and the ex-lover3
who said she loved4 how her skin looked
against mine. Who devoured my dark
fruit like a worm. Who spews my light
silk, still. Can one ever undo a spell?
Part of my father believes
I might still be a doctor, a model,
or both. His foggy eyes aglitter with
the sparkle of an infinitely crushed
mirror. You see, he fancies himself
a sculptor. Tells me my proportions
are perfect. Would love5 to see me
finally do it. Damn it. Love6 myself
enough to lose—loosen what hangs
around my masterpiece. Gazing
across the whole of me, he grins,
“It is your time,” every time.

  1. see: enter
  2. see: applies pressure to or requires
  3. see: usurper of truth
  4. see: by comparison
  5. see: imagine his triumph
  6. see: honor