Musings From The Universe

Two Young Women Of Kenya

Artwork: Two Young Women of Kenya by Beverley Peden


Akua Lezli Hope

my mother is an indictment
i am fettered by the genes
limited before beginning
i cry against her
that she was not more
than second generation running
from that tropic tongue

too chastised to be fast
too whipped to be hip
not bold enough to embrace
heartrhythm's wilderness
spice nights of peas 'n rice
the lingolilt of her people
persisting after backs dry
and green ripen
like banana like guava

like mango comesome
gingerbeer burn in mouth
little blackgirl runningfasthard breathless
beyond sweat her braids loosening in flight
hurled wordspears falling short
of flailing black legs MONKEECHASER
tribe silver on her arm marking her
as sure as cheekscars MONKEECHASER she stop
hard turns shescared shefight flailing arms
of fear fight strong with fear fatigue she fight
she strong shechange shebecome

yankeegirl accentless
Harlemcool and homegrownsweet
she nocookhot this second generation
she no jibe-jive with elders
in accented imitation no
she run fast she run fast
slicing off edges cutting her mythical tail
collecting menstrual blood
offerings for the melting pot
idol of her parent's new religion
multistoried monstrosity with fool's
gold pasties on witch's marquee
beautiful at the distance unbridgeable gap

my mother is an indictment
i am fettered by the genes
directed before beginning
i cry *for* her
this is no capitulating blood
that run fast through my vein
i am the twice born
i take back her tail
to bury it in heartsoil
like placenta by tree and water it
i celebrate saving distance
embrace difference as identity as key
i cook yam say yes, ma'am
i deeplisten to greyhairs
before memory flees
of Harlem as home,
of being free....

my mother is an indictment
i cry for her
i take back her tail.

Previously published in Confirmation, anthology of Afrikan American women writers, Quill (Morrow) NY 1983

Artwork: Two Young Women of Kenya by Beverley Peden

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