CWI March 18 Winner

To the clinic at Ouradou, Angola

Jean Cooper Moran


My mother gave birth on the red road as I wriggled my way through her long journey,

Kicking and squirming in her soft red cradle,

Drawing the salty liquid in with ease, expelling the same,

Unapologetically unrefined, raw, of no value.


Except to the woman who carried me crooning constantly,

Stroking her hand down my bulging cradle with love and no regrets even at the times of greatest pain.

Her hypnotising lalala wound into my crib of fluids

Stilling the shocks of movement as she walked to her goal.


She sought rest and helping hands to make her well again.

I sought release, pushing at the prison as my strength grew, uncompromising in my intention, sparing her nothing.

At times she rested, all the many shocks and reverberations stilled in my world.

Stupor overcame us and darkness drew us down.

We were at peace together she and I.


She breathed out, in, pulling the sharp atoms of that dry landscape into her chest, Coughing awake, conscious of the cold.

I waited floating in warm oblivion, all movement stilled.

I slept until she woke frantic for food,

Crouching in the bushes retching, snared by her body wastes.


If she ate I was unaware, my needs always fulfilled.

If she starved I heard a different music, shrill squeals from her empty gut and hollow spaces.

She vibrated to her hunger, walking without pause,

Staggering from side to side without thought for I, myself,

Lazing in her swaying stomach, feeding ferociously from her vanishing strength.


As the day’s heat mounted, degree on degree making a cauldron of her lungs she stopped, leaned down and vomited.

The shocks thrummed in my world of warm repose, waking me and making me kick again.

I pounded her cradle in rage as she fell to her knees,

Careless of my comfort, clutching her stomach.


I felt her pressing on my limbs, seeking reassurance that I lived, then all movement ceased.

Perhaps she slept, hitting the ground so eager for oblivion.

I rested, gently floating, stretching my body to its limit then curling once again,

Thumb in my mouth, her heartbeat sounding through my water world and the blood rush hissing in my ears.