Faustine Ladeiro-Levent

Before the War Ends

We give birth slick and frog-legged.
Our waters meet by the riverbank
as we wait for the flood, gooey-eyed,
sticky, our ankles thick like eels.

We crouch like animals and swallow
the ginger-heat of the desert with barren throats,
our last meal of bread and beer sediment on our tongues,
the cornerstones of labour in our grip.

One hundred settlements collapse in the sand.
Husbands locusts in warpaint; the world spirals
into ochres as they run to the river, feed
on its flower, drain the water from its mud.

We build amphibious children, element-shifters
wailing through liquid and dust,
their bodies on our bodies like clay.
We carve statues of ourselves,

contortionists made beggars,
and as we pray to idols in the shape of cows we wish
we were the hyenas laughing at the blue sun.
Our babies will be born with teeth.


Faustine Ladeiro-Levent is a French-Portuguese writer based in Birmingham. She is currently a mentee of Nine Arches Press’ DYNAMO scheme.

Read Faustine’s poem and many fascinating others in Issue 1 of Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, available to buy here.