The Natives – Kadeem Beresford-James

In my village

stitched dolls sit on shelves

twisting braids from ivy and vines.

Hollow clay beasts dance

around a fire

with eyes atop pointed sticks

and demand satisfaction from the shelf-dwellers

though there has been no conflict.

The fire tutors them

in the art of addling

by repeating their mantra.

The dolls sit,

waiting and twisting,

watching balls of dirt fall from their lips

as they chant.

The beasts roar

and the braids reach

the floor

for them to climb

but instead they burn

their eyes with their leader

and kindle the ladder

so the dolls are forced to abandon it.

The foliage screeches.

The flames wither.

The smoke shivers,

connecting in the air and solidifying

like snow between invisible hands.

The dolls sit

and the natives dance

until eyes heal

and twisting begins.


is bad with names, good with details, and enjoys a good drink. Previous editor of Roehampton Writing Society’s Anthology 2012 and co-founder of Talking to Strangers.

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