Grace Nichols – Configurations


He gives her all the configurations
of Europe.

She gives him a cloud burst of parrots.

He gives her straight blond hairs
and a white frenzy.

She gives him black wool. The darkness
of her twin fruits.

He gives her uranium, platinum, aluminium
and concorde.

She gives him her ‘Bantu buttocks’.

He rants about the spice in her skin.

She croons his alabaster and scratches him.

He does a Columbus –
falling on the shores of her tangled nappy orchard.

She delivers up the whole Indies again
But this time her wide legs close in
Making a golden stool of the empire
of his head.

from I Have Crossed an Ocean. Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2010) 
Poem chosen by Emilia Mirazchiyska

Previous articleAmy Woolard – Laura Palmer Graduates
Next articleGloriana Orlando – Christmas Gift
Grace Nichols
Grace Nichols was born in Guyana but has lived in Britain since 1977. Her first book of poems ‘I is a long-memoried Woman’ won the 1983 Commonwealth Poetry Prize. Other collections include, ‘The Fat Black Woman’s Poems’, ‘Sunris’ which won the Guyana Poetry Prize, ‘The Insomnia Poems' and ‘Picasso I Want My Face Back’ which resulted from her residency at the Tate Gallery London. She received a Cholmondeley Award for her work in 2001 and is among the poets studied on the GCSE syllabus. She has also written several collections for younger readers. Her latest adult collection, the ninth published and her fourth with Bloodaxe Books is ‘Passport to Here and There’. She is a fellow of The Royal Society of Literature.