Tuesday, April 26, 2005

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symphony of the sphinx
nikki giovanni

if it wouldn't be for my mother's moan i might forget about africa a cloud of sound swirling around out in the ocean out in the ocean alone

if it wouldn't be for the way she reaches back to that small spot at the bottom of her spine and massages it with both hands while exclaiming ' whew'
if it wouldn't be for the way she scratches that mosquito bite on her left leg with the heel of her right and catches my hair on a slightly jagged finger nail if it wasn't for the way she eases herself into a hot tub of soapy water smelling all ivory soap-like maybe there would be no reason to look back and remember

when we put grandmother in the ground she was wearing a light bluedress her hands were folding comfortably her face resposed her face reposed. i can't remember her hair i don't know why i can't remember her hair maybe the wind carried it home

if it hadn't been for the soup on the stove it might not have been monday but there was soup and it was monday and grandpapa knew today is wash day and since i was there i, too, washed and rinsed and blued and bleached and starched and carried the wash to the line to give it over to the wind and sun and carried the wash to the line to catch the smell of spice in the air and carried the wash to the line to wave to the clouds swirling about in an ocean of sound from the room where black women hum

those bits of ham or roast or the skin of baked chicken and onions and carrots and cabbage and cloves of garlic and church and club and cabaret and salt and okra to bind the stew

if it wouldn't be for okra maybe africa wouldn't mean the same thing

but saturday, lord saturday mornings, for totally mindless reasons whether grandmother mother aunt sister black women all over pull out clean rags and head for or instruct toward the living room which is never lived in until someone gets married or someone gets dead and why that room needs dusting is beyond me but it is saturday and we are compelled but is american dust

the dust of africa rests in the dressing table where grandmother made up her face before church where mother checked her face before work where i squeezed pimples before school.

how could i forget africa as long as i remember that dusting

i have to remember africa each night as i lay me down to sleep the patchwork quilt my great-grandmother patched one patch two patches three patches more i learned to count by those patches i learned my numbers by those patches the ones that hit and the many thousand gone i learned my patience by those patches that clove to each other to keep me warm

blackberries blueberries koala nuts yams

of course i remember africa just
as africa rememebers


At November 07, 2005 11:08 PM , Blogger Girly Girl said...

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