Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The women meet on a roof top
where the hotel has a cafe
catering to tourists and a humid breeze.
Three Americans hug Niuma
a Gold Coast girl
who shares their race, light clothing
and ancestors who were enslaved
in different ways.

After some wine, the watch bell
prounouncing it's late, they leave
and dusk falls over the city

Her sisters dream of white stone
forming walls with a wooden door
that opens to the sea ---

while palm leaves
dangle in the wind, become long blades
that partially cut off
the evening sun.

As her sisters sleep,
they wind this place around
their spines feeling the strain
of internment. Yet, she glides

under shut eyelids
along this balcony shouldering
marble urns that bear the taste
of jasmine and clove.

An iron balustrade
guards the kept woman
and extends her freedom
a few feet toward the shore

where tides offer a journey
she will never take. Like the widow bird
she is long-tailed, her legs
trailing elegance on the veranda
while her scalp shines, a plume of hair
catching the ocean's breath.

Only through her hands and songs
can she fly weaving the story
of her tribe and custody here
in the pale master's house. Spared
the dungeons and possible death

sired by ships sailing West,
she serves the merchant who maintains
his residence in port. Tonight
like the oils rubbed on her skin
she has dissolved
into the scent of plants
inducing her descendent
to dream in a cotton slip, almost weightless.


Painting is by French artist, Marie-France Riviere and more of her provocative and lovely work can be found here,

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