Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Eve

Assétou Xango performs “Eve” for TEDx.


They call me Eve 
I was never given a last name
This was only the first case of identity theft

I know what you’ve heard about me,
That I was carved out of the ribcage of a man
only as an afterthought.
And they told you I’d look differently

Make no mistake,
they have burned down my libraries and tried their best to scorch my memory
but I remember well.
The sweetness of God’s breath on my neck when She whispered me into existence
She told me I’d be the first of this
new species she was experimenting with

There was no talk of dominion,
but She did teach me a certain harmony with Lady Gaia and told me to embody her beauty
so I walked tall

Wide hips and extra weight to nourish the children I would carry.
And as they grew, I taught them.

Taught the young, small, weak
taught them plenty.
They came to my crown
and asked me how to run their nations Aristotle, Plato, Socrates
sucked from the supple breast of my knowledge.

Little did I know when I turned my back they’d whip slave ships into it
and create this Bible
 that blames me for the expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

There was a snake that tempted me to leave the promise land
I’m pretty sure those was your chains, guns and aggression.
So was it fruit,
or the middle passage that closed Eden’s gates.

This Bible
that tells me childbirth is a curse
and that I am the cause.
Well I am sorry,
Sorry that I broke my back to carry your children
but if you ever dared to ask me,
I’d call you the curse
I’ve been called temptress,
but it was you who stripped me naked.
Called me slut and made me hit my knees until I knew what forbidden fruit really tasted like.

The abuse didn’t stop after Lincoln
it was just heavily disguised
as the media,
tossing me a pair of booty shorts and tell me to sway my hips to the rhythm of lynched ancestors because it reminds racists of a better time.

They never look me in the eyes
because they want me to forget I have them.

I know why they do it.
They see Her image in me and fear my power.
They sold me as commodity
so I would forget what I was worth,

But you should have smashed my mirrors first.
Did you think I couldn’t see?
I am the beauty of gold embodied.

Black skin as beautiful as the galaxies they stole from my libraries but NOT from my eyes.
You can keep your idealistic paintings of me
But you will never bleach my skin or straighten my hair.

Forbid the drums of my native tongue
But you will never quiet the lavish language of my dance
I will never lose my kinks,
my fight,
my fire.
Save your cat calls for those deserving
Because I do not play with rats.
You will call me Goddess
or will not address me
at all

Credit


Copyright © 2016 Assétou Xango. Used with permission of the poet. 

Author


Assétou Xango

Assétou Xango is a poet and community activist. They were the poet laureate of Aurora, Colorado, from 2017-2019.

Date Published: 2016-12-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/eve