Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Integration of the Contraries"

This poem is the free epic for the February 2, 2021 Poetry Fishbowl meeting its $200 goal, selected in an audience poll. It is spillover from the December 1, 2020 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by [personal profile] librarygeek. It also fills the "Candy" square in my 12-1-20 card for the Winter Fest Bingo. This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"Integration of the Contraries"

[August, 1965]

The first Sankofa House was founded
at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.

It was an old stone house with three floors.
The bottom floor included the kitchen and
dining area, the living room, and the library.

The boys got the second floor while
the girls had the third floor. Each floor
had a common bathroom along with
single and double dorm rooms.

As much as possible, the students
were paired with someone from
a different cultural background.

There were only two boys to start:
Marvin Maddox, who was Welsh; and
George Cornplanter, a Seneca contrary.

There were nine girls. Irene Reynolds
was a doctor's daughter. Penelope Diggs
was the daughter of a black musician.

Queenie Bolden wanted to be a journalist,
and Judith Herschel hoped to be a lawyer.

Lucetta Salucci was Italian, from a family
with more money than they could explain.
Dianna Grande didn't have a family anymore
after they dumped her for having Super-Speed.
Lucetta said they could all go jump in a river,
and introduced Dianna to her family instead.

Rosa Garcia, who was a toasty brown,
and Eirnin O'Nell, who was milk-white
with freckles and flaming hair, tried on
each other's makeup and looked
dreadful and didn't care a bit.

Saf Andrianakis, a Greek lesbian,
had a bedroom to herself but hung out
in everyone else's rooms during the day.

They gathered in the common kitchen
to share candy brought from home
and make fresh batches because
the school food was boring.

George had maple candy
that was soft like taffy.

Lucetta had some in
three layers -- Neapolitan,
she called it, like the ice cream.

Judith had a whole hoard of
different things, but nobody
wanted to take more than
one piece because it was
so hard for her to find things
that she could eat -- except for
the halvah. That they devoured.

"That stuff will rot your teeth,"
Irene warned the other girls.

"Who cares?" Saf said,
licking her fingers with
a long pink tongue.

Rosa made a batch of
Palanquetas de Cacahuate,
which was more or less like
peanut brittle but also had
chipotle powder in it.

"That's crazy. You know
it's crazy, right?" Marvin said
as he danced around her,
trying to steal some of it.

They nearly set the kitchen
on fire horsing around, but
Dianna snatched the pot off
the stove before it could spread.

George dropped a lid over
the pot and put out the fire.

Then Queenie and Penelope
said they could candy yams
with molasses and marshmallows,
which Eirnin thought was a great idea.

That turned out to be a side dish
instead of actual candy, but it was
sweet enough to make your teeth itch,
so nobody quibbled about the details.

It didn't take long for the students
in Sankofa House to start carrying
each other's snacks around campus.

Sure, other people gave them
funny looks sometimes, but that
didn't even slow them down.

"You should stick to your own kind,"
one jerk said to Marvin, glaring.

"Wholeness is not achieved by
cutting off a portion of one’s being,
but by integration of the contraries,"
George said, tugging Marvin away.

The bully and his cronies backed off.
They had a suspicion that picking
on one Sankofa kid would lead
to getting dogpiled by all of them.

They were absolutely right.

* * *

Notes:

First Sankofa House Students
Top row: Lucetta Salucci (Italian), Marvin Maddox (Welsh), George Cornplanter (Seneca contrary), Judith Herschel (Jewish), Queenie Bolden (black), Penelope Diggs (black), Irene Reynolds
Bottom row: Dianna Grande (speedster), Rosa Garcia (Latina), Eirnin O'Nell (Irish), Saf Andrianakis (Greek lesbian)

* * *

"Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries."
-- Carl Jung

The first Sankofa House has a kitchen and dining room, living room, and common bathroom. The second floor includes boys' single rooms, boys' double rooms, and the boys' bathroom. The third floor provides girls' single rooms, girls' double rooms, and the girls' bathroom.

The civil rights movement spanned roughly 1954–1968. In Terramagne-America, it also launched the Sankofa Club as a way of promoting multicultural ideals.

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is a public historically black university in Cheyney, Pennsylvania. It hosted the first Sankofa House for students to support integration.

Sankofa Club is a a multicultural club, named for an African symbol that means "If you forgot it, go back and get it." Sankofa grew out of the Civil Rights Movement and is a key source of T-America's better race relations. Many schools and community centers have a Sankofa Club, where members can present interesting bits of their own culture and explore those of their friends. A Sankofa Home is a group home for children, offering long-term foster care. The goal is to create a permanent placement for children who are unlikely or unable to be adopted, with a mix of many ethnicities. A typical home has about 12 children and 4 houseparents, although size varies depending on the facility. A Sankofa House is a student residence at college, which may be like a fraternity or sorority house, or co-ed. Most hold between 10 to 15 students, although the larger ones go up to 25, again aiming for a rich ethnic mix. They customarily have a housemother and a housefather, although larger houses may add extra staff as aunties, uncles, or specialists.

Neapolitan started as ice cream but now exists in candy form too.

Enjoy recipes for Jewish candies, Palanquetas de Cacahuate (Mexican Peanut Candy), and Molasses Glazed Sweet Potatoes.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, education, ethnic studies, fantasy, fishbowl, history, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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