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Rite of Passage
(In memory of Virginia Woolf)
by Sharmagne Leland-St. John


born of death
a child dreaming
in this mayhem
of patchwork siblings
all a jumble
as you huddled
in your feather bed
in Vanessa's arms
what voices
whispered to you?
what flavour was
the taste of dread?


a young girl dreaming
looking over
Porthminster Bay
Godrevy Lighthouse
emblazoned forever
on your mind
how was your
happiness defined?
losses left their mark
shell shocked survivors
propelled a little further
against the dark
your motifs of emptiness
and absence
haunt us to this day
who will describe
the empty room
you left behind?

East Sussex

what did the voices
whisper to you
on that day?
were you afraid
of growing old?
the March winds
the river Ouse
deep and cold
did not deter you
from the madness
of your task or
the sickness in
your mind

familiar stones
you skipped
along the Cornish coast
now weighed you down
beside a foreign shore
what of the loved ones
left behind
like you'd been left before?

it took three weeks
to find you
your bones were laid to rest
beneath a garden tree

in what language
do the birds sing now
perched upon
the dappled bough?

Many thanks to the writers at Alsop Review
where this poem was workshopped, and especially
to Sam Home who helped me see the ligh

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