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This is not about you

Delali Ayivor

Selection from "Nappturality," Cidgy Bossuet. YoungArts.

Bantu knots, baby-hairs and dreadlocks
hip-hop, rhythm or blues.
Half-dollar nipples (38-24-37),
A slight nod of recognition given across the room.

Dancing pall bearers
head wraps,
waist beads
machete trimmed lawns.
Hightops (chucks or fades)
do-rags, hot combs and
pur-water sachets.

Groundnut stew, Etheridge Knight
economy -sized lotion, Octavia Butler
BubbleYum grape avor purple gums, Toni Morrison.
Kool-aid jammers on white bread.

The vogue, the wop, the hustle, the dougie,
pound cake after church on Sundays.
rubber-kneed children,
smack talking into the void of the diaspora,
disbelief at sunburn.

Yaki 24-inch, skin like a cacao bean
Fear of God, fear of sweated edges, fear of the law,
fear of discovery, fear of passing,
fear his white belligerence might
take something that can’t be returned.

Open gutters, light off
agouti rolled in piment,
Maggi on the table.

Macaroni and cheese when accompanied
by fried chicken, collard greens,
black-eyed peas, cornbread:
(all other times okay).
Babies tied to the body with cloth.

nickels taped to navels
and lengths of white string through freshly pierced ears.

Going left, getting lit
heifers going in
on Atlanta-themed technicolor “reality”

Baby-fathers with females
falsettos overlaid on bedsqueaks
Barber-shop as therapist and
Hennessy in a red plastic cup.

Delali Ayivor is a poet and essayist currently living and working in Miami. Originally from Accra, Ghana, Delali holds a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Reed College. She is a 2011 YoungArts Winner in Writing and a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts.