Untitled African

by Athena


I imagined she wanted to be me
Every time she came into my view
I imagined she wanted to know why I was who I am
and yet I know I wanted to impress herÖ
Without ever speaking to her and I wanted her skin
dark and smooth as a plum
Without knowing her I knew she was both sweet and sour
That she had experienced where I wanted to go
and was learning where I now stood
She was Africa
I found myself comparing her features to mine
her gait to my walk
I wanted to find some connection
I did not want to be a watered down version of her
Her name is comprised of syllables my native tongue canít pronounce
without clumsiness and American twang
but it sounds like laughter coming from the mouths
of those who know the secret language
I attempted to train my voice that sprang forth when she spoke
but all the came out was Ohio
I mimicked her graceful stroll but tripped over
the heavy steps I was raised with
In those fleeting moments she was in my view my mind ran wild
I tried to capture her essence in brightly colored headwraps 
Circling my head in tight circles
concentric circles
spiraling in and in Ďtil the target was her
Iíve never quite hit the bullís eye 
and over time she began to change
Those American characteristics I tried to rid myself of
were now coloring my view
she was becoming what I was running from
I wanted to grab her and make her understand
that our way was not the right way
I, if no one else wanted to learn her secrets,
know the sun that had polished her skin
Those times she spoke to be became fewer and farther in between
She began to see me as an American who wasnít American enough
Just another African American trying to recapture her threads
She cut those ties with fresh new eyes
Her smile faded and was no longer what I once found such beauty in
I wanted to weep for her
for the fact that she had been swept up
in this vortex she chose to be educated in
That ships and boats and planes and trains
that had brought her here by choice 
now had the same impact as if she had been brought by force 
and I figured the essence leaving her would somehow transfer to me
That I could catch the sunlight leaving her skin 
and the rhythm leaving her step
I was wrong
I am not changed from having known her in the way that I wanted
I am quieter
sadder
I know now that things change
that where I am is where others want to be 
and where I want to leave
I saw her again today
She looked through me
Never saw me
Her eyes are glazed with apple pie she is bound in stars and stripes
Claiming urban struggles never experienced 
She has exchanged Africaís burdens for Americaís trouble
and lost all in the end


Untitled African by Athena

© Copyright 2001. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.



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