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Black Beauties, or: from Mali to East Africa, spanning a continent

opening a discussion long overdue on race (?)

Black Beauties, or: from Mali to East Africa, spanning a continent

The short, heavy, gleaming cashier -- I was afraid to say 

why -- I was so distracted -- stunned almost --

by the historic hairdo she wore so . . . well,

it reminded me so strongly of Mali, in the pottery age:

the tiles and temples; why not harken to that ancient library?

Her body, overripe fruit, straining at the rind, 

spanning a continent. But

twisted braids coiled smartly -- a cone, taller than her head --

regal, if pulled off, or even alluded to, with foresight.

And this pale old white-woman

could not speak

how much I liked her anti-fashion . . . 

And I remember how the young American in Ki-Swahili, a class I was not in

proudly announced her name was "_____," unknowing

the word meant "snake" in English -- with

appropriate connotations in the native form:

a declension divorced from reason

absolved in slavery.

Sometimes it strangles to be culturally relevant.

How lost, I left without what I came in for.

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