A black woman in America, hyper-acutely mindful of her race and gender, has much of interest to share, and when the medium of sharing is skillful poetry, walls come tumbling down. Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, aforementioned, is an English prof at the University of Oklahoma and the author of three previous collections.
After you are cleaned of your slick outfit,
you will scar down the seam of your mind
and grow tight-packed stones beneath your skin.
Nothing dissolves. No one will explain.
Daily you will search for real meaning
in constant death and sundry nonsense
but no meaning will take place—damn it.
You might give in and commence to pray
and God might visit and drink your tea,
but The Holy One won’t stay for long—
you won’t see whether this mystery
wears a flowered dress or tailored pants.
Your mother will give you her big pot
to stir, though you didn’t ask for that.
She will tell you cooking heavy meals
will bring you immeasurable joy.
You will know she’s telling you a lie.
You will cut your woman’s eyes at her—
your enemy, another woman,
another convict, one more conflict.
You will hate her for pushing you through
her narrow door into a cramped room.
You will grow wise: your mother was born
only the day before you were born—
and no woman ever really dies.
You will thank her for her cooking pot—
gratitude, another betrayal.
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