Tichaona Chinyelu

Weaver Woman


I weave words
like a west african market woman
selling you my vision, 
my mangoes, my papayas, even
my coconuts.
My finished product 
can be held up to the sun,
illuminated, made to shine.

The skins of my poems 
have been submerged in mud
then laid at the bottom 
of the baobab tree 
to dry 
like mudcloth.

The blood of my poems 
can be as dry as the sahara
as wet as monsoons
as cutting as a machete 
in the hands of the mau mau.

I weave blood into my words:
red blood, dried blood, youngblood.
An over-saturation of blood decorates my words,
makes them pulse red.

My words hang from trees
like the bitterest kind 
of strange fruit.
My words find the peruvian revolutionaries
murdered while hogtied
and then buried in criminal secrecy.
My words were inspired 
by rigoberta menchu.

I roots rock reggae with my words 
have them jamming 
to the heartbeat rhythm
of the warmest music.
The fabric of my words is at its lightest
when it's in the dancehall 
or the yard.

My words sweep over people
like the softest caribbean breezes.
My words will have you 
dreaming of blue skies,
white sands and coral reefs

and while you're dreaming
I weave black people 
into my words and I am done.
My finished product 
can be held up to the sun
illuminated, made to shine.

—Tichaona Chinyelu

From In the Whirlwind, Whirlwind Publishing, 2004.

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