Friday, April 25, 2008

Sistahs of the Yam by Marjorie Barnes

Somewhere deep
in the belly of a wooden slave ship
where babies suck breast of a new heartache
where entangled arms and legs struggle
in perpendicular thought
where even the stench inside the devil’s mouth
will not mask the beauty of our mother’s tongue
because the sistahs
are plotting.

Some place small
where inebriated family secrets are
not so neatly tucked away
where elongated fingernails
trace the up and down threads
of a white padded room
where even forced latex gloves and long white robes
can not drown the humming of our ceremonial truth
because the sistahs
are plotting.

Somewhere angled
in the corner of a classroom
where the powerless and the powerful meet
and young minds hunger validation
through textbooks and technology
where even the disapproving blue eyes
that pierce over wide rim glasses do
little to threaten our beautiful spirit
because the sistahs
are plotting.

Some place pressed against
a city’s lamp post and curbside
where fortuitous feet slither
towards a promise of a drink, a john, a fix
where money becomes hand over fist
or somewhere kneeling
in a pew or a bedside craddling
a fornicated womb
or a man gone too soon
the sistahs are plotting.

even right here as
we beat back
a plantation summer
in our straw hats
and full-length skirts
our white pearls
and laced shawls,
we piece together a legacy
one sistah at a time
and the salvation of our words
hold us up to the stars
because we know
that the sistahs
are always plotting.

So somewhere,
anywhere you find
these runaway slaves
these revolutionary petunias
these sanctified mothers of song
these daughters of the dust
these warriors of the dance
these sistahs of the yam,
this pendulum of blackness
is ready and willing
at any moment
to reach down into the wilderness
take back our ancestry
spit fire at uncertainty
and say to the world:
I dare you.

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