By Yalie Kamara
University of West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados
Come, do this, Ms. Margaret calls out to me. And so
I leave her air-conditioned office, then follow.
We stand here under the hot fist of this Bajan sky. Each
of our right arms is extended. She rotates
her wrist, then I swivel mine. Our bracelets clang
against the wind, against
the Shak Shak tree’s gentle drumming,
against the barren parking lot’s cratered
face upon which we plant our feet.
We begin to melt from woman to solid to liquid.
From the main office window, it must look
like we are dancing, though if our shadows
told the story, it would say that our limbs
are trying to twist the world like a wind-up
toy. She points to the first sweat beads
that congregate at the shore of my forearm
like a handful of cabochons. They burst into
prismatic rivulets. Ms. Margaret watches
my summer flesh alchemize. She is wide
grinned as I learn the secret: how in this season,
we become black opal under each other’s watchful eye.
A week later, I smuggle myself through customs.
In America, I try it again and again: the magic
trick in which I make a rainbow of my skin
every time it storms in this nation that I call home.
YALIE KAMARA is a Sierra Leonean-American writer and a native of Oakland, California. She’s the author of A Brief Biography of My Name, which was included in New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Tano) and When The Living Sing. She has received fellowships from Callaloo, The National Book Critics Circle, and The Vermont Studio Center and was a finalist for the Brunel African Poetry Prize. She earned an MFA in Poetry from Indiana University, Bloomington and is currently a doctoral student in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati. For more: www.yaylala.com
Artwork by Isabella Lill