In this poem by Wendy Thompson Taiwo, the weight of generational trauma, carried for over three decades, is tangible. Wanting to shed this burden, not merely its scent but its entirety, is a cry for release and renewal. The desire to extricate it from the self, like a malignant growth, speaks to the profound need for liberation.
The poet envisions depositing it into something, perhaps a jar or forgotten account, even another’s body—an act of desperate dissociation from the pain. The yearning to discard the shame, casting it into the abyss of trash, the boundless expanse of the ocean, or the purifying fire, illustrates the desperation to be free from this haunting legacy.
The idea of archiving this agony, similar to recording oppressive history, is an announcement of the poet’s presence, an acknowledgment that their battle will not be forgotten. In its sheer vulnerability, the poem becomes a scar, a landmark to the unique wound that gave life to it. It is a curated show in which joy, bitterness, and intriguing patrons gather, giving testimony to a path of reclamation and perseverance. Through these verses, we see the difficult route to breaking free from the bonds of generational trauma, a journey marked by the power of self-expression and the unbreakable spirit of survival.
“After carrying the weight of all this damage
for over thirty years, I wanted to be rid of it.
And not just the smell of it—all of it.
To remove it from my body like a malignant
growth or parasite. To deposit it in into
something: a jar, a forgotten account
someone else’s body. To throw the shame
away. Into the trash. Into the ocean. Into a fire.
To archive the pain like slave schedules or
census records that no longer spoke of my
existence. This poem is a scar that reveals the
onceness of a wound, a curated show in which
joy, bitterness, and unknown patrons attend.”
Read the full poem here: Generational Trauma – Waccamaw (waccamawjournal.com)
Feature image: Melissa Askew, On Unplash