What Elizabeth Bishop Could Not Know

- 1951-
Black women keep secrets tied up in hankies
they stuff in their bras, secrets of how their necks
are connected to their spines in the precise gyration
of a jelly sweetened in nights they had to keep
to themselves, nights prowlers came in to change
the faces of their children, secrets like the good
googa mooga laughter they do with each other
when something affirms their suspicions, when
their eyes are made the prayerbooks of fate crafted
in the wisdom that knows there is no north or south
in black wandering, searching the new land, a song
they wrestle from black men, the broken ones
who had to be shown where and how to stand, 
how to respect pain and the way it governs itself,
secrets, things made out of generations and not kept
in the glass selections of an old juke box.

More by Afaa Michael Weaver

My Father's Geography

I was parading the Côte d'Azur,
hopping the short trains from Nice to Cannes,
following the maze of streets in Monte Carlo
to the hill that overlooks the ville.
A woman fed me pâté in the afternoon,
calling from her stall to offer me more.
At breakfast I talked in French with an old man
about what he loved about America--the Kennedys.

On the beaches I walked and watched
topless women sunbathe and swim,
loving both home and being so far from it.

At a phone looking to Africa over the Mediterranean,
I called my father, and, missing me, he said,
"You almost home boy.  Go on cross that sea!"