On Being Burnt / danielle boodoo-fortuné

The burning starts with a word
a struck match,
a searing fist.

You lie still.
You are so tired
of struggling

and there is no one waiting
to beat down the door
and save you from burning
inside your own body.

Someone once told you
that love must be borne
tight against your breasts
like an orphaned thing,
a calcified child.

You’ve been carrying yours
like this, all these years….
swaddled in sheets,
pressed up hard
against your lungs.

Still, you’ve always known
that the wild thing
would not be satisfied
with bread alone

that one day
it would hear
your heart’s thin shriek
beneath all the flammable layers
of cotton and skin

that the thing
you brought to your bed
would burn you.

And now, nothing is left
of your eaten self
but smoke, rising
from the house
never yours
to begin with.

In the bushes
something picks your hair
from its teeth,
walks upright
toward some other death.


Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné is a poet and artist whose poetry has been featured in Bim, The Caribbean Writer, Anthurium, tongues of the ocean, Canopic Jar, Small Axe Literary Salon and Poui. In 2009, Danielle was awarded the Charlotte and Isidor Paiewonsky Prize for first time publication by the Caribbean Writer. In 2010, she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Danielle was a participant in the 2010 Cropper Foundation Caribbean Writers’ Residential Workshop. She is currently the poetry editor at Anansesem: the Caribbean Children’s Literature Magazine.

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