Sunday, December 20, 2009

Return to Mother Africa

I return to Mother Africa an alien,

my African blood thinned through generations of race-mixing

with the Cherokee, and the Blackfoot,

and the Scots and Irish of North Carolina and Virginia . . . .

I go to the discotheques but the rhythms

are far too complex for my sensibilities,

too difficult for me to even imagine trying

to dance to; but I fake it, trying to stay in step,

consoling myself in the knowledge that,

at least, I know . . . .

With the women I find myself at a loss for words,

not necessarily because they’d laugh

at my broken Crioulo (or even at my flawed Portuguese),

nor even because I know they know

I can’t promise them a way out of their misery

when I leave . . . .

No, I’m awed by them because of their courage,

because their mere existence is a triumph,

a remarkable overcoming,

an achievement that stands them alone,

at least from we, who have known neither true poverty nor deprivation,

who have always had access to clean hospitals,

and uninterrupted electricity, and drinking water,

the best of schools with well-stocked libraries,

and, lest we forget, to the latest

in high-tech running shoes . . . .

Yes, I’m awed by their courage, by their resilience,

by their hope, by their optimism . . . .

I return to Mother Africa an alien,

my natural senses dulled, my skin bleached,

my hair relaxed, my butthole tightened

through generations of Americanization.

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