Poem by Jyhene Kebsi
My straps are weary of carrying her heavy breasts
My straps are weary of carrying swollen breasts over a sad chest
My greasy straps
are weary, like her torn slippers
Tight cups squash swollen breasts
Tight slippers squeeze bruised feet
My straps queue for food, medicine, toilets, the phone….
My straps are weary from kyriarchy
Her breasts speak to me
They sigh and confess:
They miss the carob tree
They want to flee
from the smell of urine to the smell of the tree
They mourned her swollen fall
from palm trees to Villawood
Her breasts whisper:
No pads until labour
Will they stare at her during labour?
What will be her baby’s number?
She bites my straps
Bites her arms, bites her shirt, bites her fingers
She craves Arabic coffee
Nostalgia for her mother Kifah’s coffee
Coffee with orange blossom
Kifah dries orange peels in the sun
Kifah roasts them, grinds them, adds them to her coffee
The woman who wears me
belongs to that warm coffee
The sad breasts who wear me
belong to the smell of its oranges,
to the dates eaten as she sips her mother’s coffee
to her mother’s cuddle, to her mother’s coffee
She misses the face of her mother,
She wants to hide in the smell of her mother,
in the breasts of her mother
Will her child like the smell of her mother’s coffee?
Will Australia have similar coffee?
deportation will take her back to savour that coffee.
My straps are weary
Memories of overstaying her visa
make her breasts heavier, heavier, heavier
My straps listen to her breasts’ whispers
Their whispers yearn for liberty
in one of the countries of liberty
I am weary
My straps and cups are weary
Of squashing her breasts
This detainee needs to breathe,
This prisoner needs a bigger bra
Jyhene Kebsi is a Lecturer in Gender Studies at Macquarie University. Before coming to Macquarie, Dr. Kebsi worked as a Teaching Fellow in the English Department at the University of Sydney. She also taught at both the University of Western Sydney and Saint Thomas University in the United States. Dr. Kebsi’s research and teaching focus on transnational feminism, globalization, postcolonialism, asylum and world literature. Dr. Kebsi is the recipient of multiple prizes and awards, including Fulbright.