her body is the land - K Darch

Vanilla Ice on the loudspeaker says kick it one time boyyyy
mine deeper harder faster now
be a miner for a heart of gold
it’s illegal
not the taking
just if you don’t have a permit
her body is the land where all you need is a license
to plunder
the paper work becomes an extension of the violence
signatures and lines and hands that sign

galamsey, they call us
we are illegal miners
after the same thing as those licensed ones really
(the aura of licenses)
survival
(the aura of survival)
the desire to have children
we don’t have papers or permits
sometimes we use mercury
it gets into the water
the children have sores and rashes
but our operation is the same if
smaller
no funding from the government
no sustainability
inspectors
no heavy equipment just our hands
grassroots plunder
I take from the earth with my own hands
economy is not abstract here
there’s economy and the economy
burning down the skin of the legs of the girl down the river
like the skin of a grape
she will be a porter like her mother
and carry
nuggets from the earth
the newspapers say it’s criminal
we know
it’s just criminal
on a smaller scale

we take gold out of the earth
we take and we take it

we were born here in the gold
nothing will make us stop

*

hope, like gold
can be traded

wrested from the ground with mercury
how many rashes and rivers to extract this hope?
hope is a dirty word here
a nugget covered in dirt

they send in the journalists for human rights
(as opposed to the ones who aren’t)
who cut tiny openings through which
the story comes in spurts
between the squeeze of the lede and the nut graf
and the two line quotes
gold and mercury coming out
between business finance culture leisure

*

we travel from town to town
she carries and she cooks
and when I come home covered in mercury
she hides me in her body
she hides me in her body to hold me back from the world

*

Canada goes for gold
gold standard
gold rush
gold wash
gold collar worker
goldschläger
gold digger

*

men make nations
and call them she
draw borders, set limits, regulate and sell off rights
of access
and call that project she
God bless our homeland Ghana
and make our nation great and strong
as it lives this divided life
what men say it is
and all the things it really is.

*

Gold running beneath the children’s feet
under those mud huts and malnourished children, the news says
in an imagined whisper
gold
they don’t even fuckin know it

5 comments:

Nana Ofosu Agyemang said...

Galamsey operations though not safe, it does not cause much havoc than the larger industries who poison our waters but since they are shielded by their license, sometimes they go free. Galamsey should be properly managed by governments to help the local communities to support.

The poet has written but in a manner which touches on all front of the gold business. well done

Dela Bobobee said...

I really value this poem for three main reasons, its mode of narration: dramatic monologue, smoldering undertone, and the critical thematic preoccupation of the poet.

The mode of narration is very precise, coming from the horse’s mouth, a galamsey. Dramatic monologue has always been my favourite, it offers great insight into the feelings of the speaker. Indeed, the style of the dramatic monologue, which attempts to evoke an entire story through representing part of it, may be called an endeavor to turn into poetry many of the distinctive features of drama. This time it is very interesting as it comes from the perceived culprits, galamsey.

I compare this poem to Soyinka’s Abiku, as it vividly brings to mind the taunting words of the unremorseful Abiku.

“galamsey, they call us
we are illegal miners”
“we take gold out of the earth
we take and we take it

we were born here in the gold
nothing will make us stop”
“hope, like gold
can be traded

wrested from the ground with mercury
how many rashes and rivers to extract this hope?
hope is a dirty word here
a nugget covered in dirt”

The opening stanza of the poem is charged with an undercurrent of searing sarcasm. Indeed my blood level rises with the heavy irony and vehemence of the poet persona. Every phrase evokes a strong feeling of cynicism and unconcealed disdain for the hypocrisy of government officials, sustainability inspectors and other relevant authorities, who are supposed to checkmate the trend but also take delight in manipulations for their selfish gains.

“It’s illegal
not the taking
just if you don’t have a permit
her body is the land where all you need is a license
to plunder
the paper work becomes an extension of the violence
signatures and lines and hands that sign”

From the blunt voice of the incensed narrator it s clear that they are not completely unaware of the dangers and dire consequences of their act but that since it is a free for all take, then least should be expected for their concern as a fallout of their nefarious activities. This is what I call “a fraud for thought.”

Krissy Darch has done a very good job in showcasing such a serious issue with a drop of piercing sarcasm and an unconcealed revulsion for hypocrisy. Through her excellent choice of precise expository, it is very glaring for all to see what goes on behind the scene of feigned concern for accountability. I can just imagine the irony in her voice within the question and answer section, when commenting on the double standards of even some NGO practitioners. This is a clear indication of the insincerity of all the stakeholders as guilty parties. Where does all this leave the unwary victims of water contamination, mostly children and women? Nowhere, sadly to say.

Krissy, I really want to say that I appreciate your relentless efforts in this regard. Yes, you have made your point. You are not alone in this fight. I also wish to personally identify with your laudable ideals because you are just the type of individuals I wish to associate with. People who add value, impact positively on your personality without necessarily taking away your individualistic originality. I know that the poet persona mostly takes a greater chunk of the real personality of the poet, and that is just what poets are supposed to be; reviewer of societal false sense of value. Your choice of literary elements is just appropriate for the type of advocacy or front you want to establish. You hit the nail on the head.

Bravo. Thanks for passing the message across.

Darko Antwi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darko Antwi said...

Krissy Darch is a writer with courage that dares to throw a searchlight on the darkside of goldfields and dynamites.

I believe that her work is a broad banner of a mighty crusade to follow - for fair play in Ghana's minning industry. But where her message is misunderstood, I'm afraid she would unfortunately be subjected to harsh criticism.

Never give up, Kissy.

Dela Bobobee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.