Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie

Lady, what is beneath your skin
seemingly satisfied with one
uncomplicated man?
You’ve signed his name
onto yours/woven two lives
into a fine garment.

Tell me
does he unzip your howl
trace your tears’ etymology
is he fluent in your black lace laughter
does anywhere you go together
become rich with the fragrance of lovers
when your hand brushes his
does all the dust

Lady, I am red clay
swirling. I am a trembling match
licking a scripture’s certainty.
I walk alone and unravel holy things.
I can chew a good man to the gristle.
I scare myself everyday,
a hunter dances beneath my skin.

Lady, have you ever seen a tornado
in your mirror?
How did you cage her
before she smashed

Homage to my Breasts

(after Lucille Clifton)

these breasts are no longer stargazers
even alert they can’t look a man
in the eye. they sighed milk
for two girl children who grew round
& learned the alphabet on pearls of mama dew,
these breasts became bread, then lowered
their dough heads, watched the children
crawl & walk. these breasts erased
memory of tongues craving
different food, two bowls of fire
cupped in a hungry man’s hands.

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie is the author of Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation (Grand Concourse Press) and Karma’s Footsteps (Flipped Eye). She is the Poetry Editor of the literary magazine African Voices. Tallie’s work is the subject of the short film “I Leave My Colors Everywhere.” Her essays and poetry have most recently been published on The Infoxicated Corner, 90′s Meg Ryan, This, and in The North American Review and The BreakBeat Poets.

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