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Root Work Journal - Navigating the Ocean - Volume 1, Issue 2


Kisaye Natsuki





 I am an author, a life and leadership coach, a lecturer, mother, grandmother and a survivor, who was born in Trinidad and migrated to Canada at 15. I have worked to understand and integrate my family's generational experiences of violence, migration & transformation. From doing this, I have worked in communities to help heal and grow African peoples generational experiences of pain, loss and change, using and reclaiming silenced and sometimes forgotten ways of seeing and feeling our world.

This poem speaks about African peoples surviving our cross-centuries experience of displacement and subjugation where notions of home can fee lost, empty or inaccessible. It culminates to show that through this experience, another parallel and interacting reality of agency, clarity and action is occurring and we are empowered beyond any imposed systems. I recognized my strength and clarity as well as my powerful autonomous decision-making despite an experience of migration to Canada where knowing my place is always dictated. This allowed me to see even moreso the presence of this strength throughout our ancestors and still in ourselves now.


The absence of home feels like an absence,
not a temporary passage through which gifts of discovery lie, but an

absence, marked
by an ocean unsettled
casting unfettered ship in violent motion back and forth on fitful seas

never reaching land
though disembarking
to shore
Heart embedded like feet sinking into dirt,
Body adrift, sailing without mast and sails,
following a
compass mismatched
to the weather and these stars

Eyes close as night draws near

fatigued by the billow of emerald blue

waters, and
winds, always beneath
a howling moon

seeking a plot of land chosen by my desire that

welcomes me and
this is home,

whether people or place

indistinguishable both from

hearth and fire tending
the hot coca

before bedtime of my

childhood signaling
like a flag planted on ground

in my

reaching land

This absence
not empty
not hollow, not shallow from unfilled excavation, but

An absence full
of stories of changing lands, bodies written upon by

history’s fountain pens
with calligrapher’s ink spanning centuries
Tales of flesh and meaning transcribed
into footprints
constantly moving as labor
and reproducing bellies
always-foreign spaces, made alien
ancient pains sung through conquests

under which my
sepia and amber canvas is dictated

to stay
in places
I renounce
full of affirmation of

This absence of home
whether people or place
marked by broad, loud strokes on almost-white acid-free cotton, red on sable hairs mast cells healing wound, defending petition for safety, strengthening
is full of
manning unchartered ships sovereign to heart
in changing seas
biding tides of
to wield a freedom
amidst inscription and instructions
to walk slowly backwards in assigned garb knowing
the pace of each footstep, until door is reached exiting to one’s commanded

is missing
But not lost or empty

This absence


Stories, love, transgressions that speak clarity,

actions that hum serenity, quiet that
to passion

charting course beneath this

compass mismatched

current forceful

leading as mast

and sail
the jouney
and destination


Anchor 1
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