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Anjail Rashida Ahmad - Award Winning Poet, Educator and Activist
a wound’s deeper kiss
she stood admiring herself in the bathroom mirror,
gazing at the creamy hue of her skin, shaded, beneath
a budding crop of baby dreads. it was her hair that snared
her, drew her into a remembrance of her past, her long-ago
childhood, when the negroes, the coloreds, the pickaninnies
learned to place greater value on the silken headed and
lighter skinned among them. she remembered her grandmother,
a large woman of a nutmeg complexion, as such a one as these.
as slowly as a spring unwinds, her hair had begun to kink and curl,
to knot like a solidarity of nappy fists all over her head.
each matted dread had begun to thread into a promise of tomorrow.
each interwoven strand of her hair slid one over the other,
a scar, leaving a delicate memory of a wound’s deeper kiss.
what some women wear in their bones
about what crowned her,
what it was that made her,
and others of her generation, a woman.
she said she was lucky to have married
some fifty years ago.
in my day,
a woman was prized
for her strong bones,
her steady gaze,
her pleasant disposition, and hair
that lifted like glory toward heaven.
in the shifting light,
her proud bones softened
beneath blemished patches of skin
stretched over her broad, dished-out face
and the curvature of forearms muscled
from hoisting pots, lifting baskets of laundry
and balancing babies on her hips.
she crossed her arms under her breast as we paused
in the clearing. the sky sifted purplish blue
above pine boughs and the dull nodes of heads bound
bound by blood,
is what she said over and over into the evening
air. she kept repeating it like a lyric
set loose from the strains of a now meaningless song
that turns on its own axis inside the opaque bone of the head
where notions of self are kept, where careless misgivings
can crowd the least developed sense
of one's worth.
into the furrowed night,
she carried the long harp of her bones
hardened like the inner shell
of an unobtrusive mollusk
singing to itself
in the wet dark of a riverbed,
layering over its bitter bulb of sand,
its miracle of milky stone,
the heart of a pearl borne at great price.
raising the borrowed ladder, my son
and i clip the upturned lip of the gutters
stuffed like gluttons with pine straw
and the dried remnants of leaves.
being the elder,
i press the splintered wood
between my fingers as if to guide
the ascending rungs into the gray mouth
of the sky.
in this moth-eaten air,
the yellow leaves
scatter among the blades
of grass like willing bones.
our jackets lift
like an anxious bird's tail.
i cannot fly.
i am anchored to the earth's
brown moss, but he ascends
the paint-stained rungs
in his lithe body
as tentative wings,
his feet light
against that uneven ground.
like a proud roof ornament
seeking the proper direction,
he struts the full measure
of the gables,
end to end,
turning, barely kneeling
to counter the slant edge.
i marvel at his ascension,
the nimble way he hangs
between heaven and earth
as though he belonged
Anjail Rashida Ahmad, PhD
Director and Associate Professor,
The Creative Writing Program at A&T
North Carolina A&T State University
Greensboro, NC 27411
Tel: 336.334.7771, ext. 2370
Copyright (c) 2010. Anjail Rashida Ahmad. All rights reserved.
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