To Every Birth Its Pain


No backporch in my mind
but there was beauty: sun
slowsetting on episcopal church
i thought it a cathedral, a castle
whose tropical tree peeked
from alley from back
Gracing the gray sinful concrete
block with relief, recessed
between aging buildings.
Our playcries melted with fading day
carhorns, hustlenoise muted
like thin hornplayer's strain
for expression

Strain for expression...
small store and efficient.
She peered between fronds
of her window jungle. (i would wonder:
was this like her home?)
calling me, softsmiling, smile worn
for me alone. Deep but small lap
soon outgrown, never outgrown
large bosom and salt and pepper
hair thickbraided, bound toward a knot.
Al/ways warm, comfort-fragrance
humming soothe lullabyes
'if i had the wings of a dove'
Ringing cash register,
giving cookies, talking silly,
girl little 'n banana brown
oh! the sugarcane mangoes
and bunbread oh! the caresshappiness
funnynames: tutums

Deep times. The nono African throat-
cluck, gently guiding, greatly indulging.
Growing fierce, steelfacedgranite
Strong: for the white bill creature
Cheated but never shortchanged

Old women Sundayscreeching in West Indian church
He arose! He arose! He Arose!
Defeated but victorious.


c1977 Akua Lezli Hope



PraiseWoman Holding Winged Heart, handmade paper handcast in plaster mold, cotton and fibers plus yarn. Akua Lezli Hope,1999.