This is what they do When your umbilical cord Has been cut, After the blood has been Washed off your skin, And you have been discovered To be a girl. The women gather around. Your grandmother Unwraps the pouch of silence Hidden inside her mouth. She makes sure only The women can see this. She unwraps the pouch slowly. The women stare in silence Nodding in agreement As she unwraps her silence, Gently placing power Into your mouth. Your voice is born.
Ijeoma Umebinyuo Ijeoma Umebinyuo was born in Lagos, Nigeria but her ancestral home sits between two states, a border town somewhere in Southeastern Nigeria. Her short stories and poems have appeared in The Stockholm Review of Literature, The Wildness, The Rising Phoenix Review, Doll Hospital Journal, The Renaissance Noire,andThe MacGuffin. Her poem “Diaspora Blues” is a part of Dr. Rosalba Icaza’s contribution to Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics. She speaks on “Dismantling the Culture of Silence” in her TEDx talk. Her poem “The Delicate Acts of Survival” from her poetry collection Questions for Ada has been selected to be translated into Spanish; it will be published by Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencas Sociales (Latin American Council of Social Sciences) as part of an ebook.