Mark McWatt

Ol’ Higue


You think I like this stupidness-
Gallivanting all night without skin,
burning myself out like cane fire
to frighten the foolish?
And for what? A few drops of baby blood?
You think I wouldn’t rather
take my blood seasoned in fat
black-pudding, like everyone else?
And don’t even talk ‘bout the pain of salt
and having to bend these old bones down
to count a thousand grains of rice!
If only babies didn’t smell so nice!
And if I could only stop
hearing the soft, soft call
of that pure blood running in new veins,
singing the sweet song of life
tempting an old, dry-up woman who been
holding her final note for years and years,
afraid of the dying hum...

Then again, if I didn’t fly and come
to that fresh pulse in the middle of the night,
how would you, mother,
name your ancient dread?
And who to blame
for the murder inside your head...?

Believe me-
As long as it have women giving birth
a poor ol’higue like me can never dead.

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About "Ol’ Higue"

Ol' higue is a poem written in first person in the form of a dramatic monolgue. An ol'higue, one of the many jumbees in Guyanese folklore, is an old blood sucking hag and in some versions prefer the blood of babies or young children. The poem talks about the ol' higue who is frustrated that she has always given into the temptation of drinking blood, and is irritated by the means she has to do it but still she does it, in order to survive.

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