Round and Whole

by Octavia McBride-Ahebee

Empty mango trees, drained of leaves and living color
hold only vultures,
the lone and last witness that I once was,
positioned in a congenital though merciful conspiracy
they look down on me
I stare up at their glorious, black, feathered cloaks
Covering the skeletal, witness arms
of  this giant, sun-beaten fruit flower
these buzzards, angry at their own nature,
are compelled to banquet on my flesh
their hearts, they convey through their florid heads
will not eat my soul as an appetizer
while my body  rots on the side of the road
alone, except for the sole companionship
of someone’s silent, crawling child,
dragging its limbs, disrupting dead memories
of thin, twisted strips of black licorice
eaten in times of plenty
a child, drained , too, like the mango trees
but forever  green
pulling with its neglected mouth at my left breast
spotted like a leopard, deflated like bagpipes
without the breath of a musician to give them context

Full was once my like
but fullness-round and whole
light with ordinary innocence
like soap bubbles blown
from a child’s unworldly mouth-
defies, distorts, disturbs your image of   me
the African
I am a Dinka girl, complex
piled high like an anthill
I am a Dinka girl from Juba
black like  the tar you pour on roads
to ease  your travels and I am just as long

but I cover   myself, on joyous journeys,
in cattle dung and red ocher
for reasons you refuse to hold
I work hard , dance easily
and suck the juice from  mangoes
with a passion you will never touch
I make love in the open fields
when  the sun has knocked its glass walls
and only the cows and the moon’s light are watching
and God tickling me with her approval

I am one piece of a gaunt, faceless mass
to you
-a bloated stomach
emptied by inept, home-grown madmen-

We are stranded starfish spewed from the ocean
once part of  something round and whole
now left on the road to rot
but, no, I am not alone on the shoulder of this road
here is a dying child and a horde of vultures
who will take me from you
and I will float in a generous atmosphere
wear an amulet around my neck to keep you out
eat  stars when I  am hungry
and  still make love by the moon’s light.

Round and Whole by Octavia McBride-Ahebee

© Copyright 2004. 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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