Edited and introduced by Gibson Fay-LeBlanc.

This week’s poem weaves together elements from the creation story told in the Bible with the history of slavery and racism to present us with a powerful set of images about the tremendous cost of that history. The first line makes one think of the song “Strange Fruit” about lynchings in America and sung unforgettably by both Billie Holiday and Nina Simone.

Samara Cole Doyon is a wife, mother, educator and writer who lives in Portland. She holds a BA in English from the University of Southern Maine with a minor in poetry writing, and she is currently working on a masters in teaching and learning. Samara is a regular contributor at Black Girl in Maine Media, writing about her experiences with everyday racism in an overwhelmingly white majority state.

Tree of Knowledge (An Ode to the Motherland)

By Samara Cole Doyon

The strange fruit forced down her fettered throat –

Warm, wet, full of iron;

The weight of that crop –

First ripped from between her legs,

Then hung from branches so thickly

Her crowned head bowed beneath it,

Hunger pressing water from her skin,

Pressing her bones inward and downward,

Turning them into mine shafts laced with diamonds,

The wet earth slowly swallowing the soles of her feet,

Her fractured ankles,

Her broken but unbending knees,

Her eyes growing wider by the second,

Burning with the endless bitterness of perfect understanding,

All the while listening to the whistle of a pale and naked man

Strolling casually through the paradise

Hemorrhaging from her shattered fingertips.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2017 Samara Cole Doyon. It appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to www.pressherald.com/tag/deep-water.

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