Thursday, October 13, 2011

africa, from a white girl

very, very preliminary draft of something I'm working on.

continent of spice, and tigers and mystery
what do I have to do with you?
My white ancestors smell of coal, turnips, seasalty fish, we
Are rumrunners, perhaps mountain folk,
Back far enough.

What have I to do with your sun and dark,
Your riches and rape, your depth and warmth and

I honour you, africa.

How did a continent writ over crossways with famine become
Nell-Carter Mother Africa--Mother Jones, Oprah,  Maya
All voluptuous round chocolate warm curves and strength and love and
Carrying on, carrying the weight, carrying.

Is this a stereotype television has fed me?
Well, duh.

You are rich riot orange-green-yellow-indigo-brown kente cloth,
Swathes, swaddled on waddling hips, with flashing smiles and turbaned hair,
A statement I cannot make, I, who wear blackbecauseitisslimming, as my people do.My people: those I see every day, most of them with that peculiar peachy pink hue we
call 'flesh', we caucasian-centric colour namers.

You are every shade of coffee and chocolate, and
I am milk.

i have never travelled your roads myself, but have
clutched the aura of strangeness that Mary Jane and Magan were
wrapped in on their return, sniffing it like a
strange perfume, like an infusion that restored breath.

They are richer for knowing you, while I am the child trying to
timidly touch Jesus' hem from the edge of the crowd.

Africa, it is your women who draw me, your ragged old-too-young rape
of warfare survivors, your grandmothers raising villages where a morality-fused
disease has decimated your children, and you,
You carry on. Carrying the weight, carrying.

I have studied your seedsavers, your co-operative
founders, your micro-credit mother groups. I
know that the challenges that could slay me are
breakfast in your world. I am soft. You
are strong.

The pretender child disavows his own mother from
Shame, and gets nearer to the mother he wants, to try
To become someone he's not.
I know who I am. I know my heritage, my worth, its worth.
But still, I wish
You were the aunt who visited every holiday and let me see you
Hair down, relaxed. I wish I had learned some of your spiced wisdom,
To complement mine.

Africa, I know my own community may lack
savannahs, lions, tigers, zebras, deserts and
there is no Sphinx, but
It too is full of your children.

Please help me, continent of ancient knowledge,
continent of origin,
Help me understand how to overcome my
ignorance, my lack of connection, my
inability to know how to what to when to say...
Help me embrace my honesty and meet you on my
Help me understand when I am ready
when I am worthy
what I can do.
What can I do.

Carry on. Carry the weight. Carry
you in my heart.

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