Lillian simply feathered her tresses.
flossy highlights swirly frost w/
ceramic flat. w/ a slight toss she fixed 
her radiate do towards the back of neck. 

profound genteel shoulders. high & mighty.
distinguished shoulders that ain’t causin’ no AfterFall 
her left-hand whiffs off any second guessing.
Lillian has a doctorate in linguistics.
says so on the opening page of her powerpoint. 

her audience squints. projection blurry w/ glare.
something is just wrong i say to myself. 
this here talk on Southern Black vernaculars.
me not being southern southern but raised by a Carolinian 

truthfully, i’m here for the free pocket journals.
an eavesdrop on this affair on Lynchburg soil stolen,
yards from a segregated pool drained & filled out of spite.
i was just passing time 
coming upon this event staged by the Black Student club
w/ a dollop of Black American, a pinch of African & a dash of allies. 

Sayd-ity” Lillian says. something’s obtuse.
Sayd-ity” Lillian takes pride in her PowerPoint.
lips stenciled pursed stoic & non-exploratory 
her mouth can’t quite mouth the shape of the word.

discusses the word like she sanctified. “see here?”
Lillian defers to her charter. Lillian is well learned. 
“see here? the root of the word. the region of its etymology. 
when it first appeared. sayd-ity. sayd-ity. sayd-ity.”

Lillian is the expert. just like Paula Deen. says so on diploma.
           says so at bottom of each slide. 
           says so in her self-confidence.  
who am i to be some curt cunt to try her?
& who among this modest gathering
women my age nowhere near fallout shelters 
for swimming against this soup swiss made & shit?

my kin of shared keloid 
variations stirred in quandary anti-casta 
sitting back in our chairs
           significations our brows must read louder than bomb dives

if we could simulate territorial Baltimore orioles,

                                                we would.

do y’all hear what I see?
every GIF known to blackkind
we avoid the obvious resting facial that could occur.
we ain’t trying to show her / tell her nothing

she discusses the word 

          oh the duplicity of that word. of stone. of sod. w/ buried shores.

Copyright © 2023 by LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 15, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.