Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "My Girl, My Mama"

This poem is spillover from the February 7, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by [personal profile] zianuray and [personal profile] mirrorofsmoke. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles.


"My Girl, My Mama"


My girl, my baby girl,
her hair all black and coily,
soft as lambswool in my hands

     My mama, my big mama,
     her hands my hair all gentle
     like going under a hen for her eggs

My girl, her hair so long
it comes down her shoulders
when I comb it out wet

     My mama, her hands
     so clever in my hair, making
     the prettiest patterns

My baby, all rubbed down
with coconut and shea butter
smells so good you could eat her up

     My mama, working on me
     till I smell like sunscreen and dessert
     and my hair a crown

My baby girl, done up
all fancy so everybody knows
how I love her

     My mama, so busy but she
     always got time to do me up
     and I know she love me

* * *

Notes:

African-American poetry often uses a call-and-response format: either one speaker and a chorus responding, or a dialog between two speakers. It often incorporates black speech patterns, which derive from African languages, such as omitting or simplifying "be" verbs and inflections. Explore this with Maya Angelou.

African-American hair tends to grow in a dense spiral pattern, variously called coily or nappy. While some people hate it, others enjoy the opportunity for mother-daughter bonding offered by braiding this type of hair, which holds elaborate designs exceptionally well.

Braiding is an essential skill for natural African hair, not just for decoration but for protective styles too. I wear mine in one long plain braid, unless I'm dressing up and want to style it fancy; that's a common protective style. You also need to keep it moisturized, and detangle carefully. Learn how to make cornrows and crown braids. Here is a typical crown braid on nappy hair.

Love languages are the ways people express and perceive affection, including between parents and children. In order to be understood clearly, you must show your love in the other person's love language. In addition to the physical skills such as making sure it doesn't hurt like hell, the enjoyment of braiding -- which often takes hours -- probably depends on parent and child having compatible love languages. Quality time, acts of service, and physical touch are all relevant there.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, family skills, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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