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De nigger woman is de mule uh de world.

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

she scowls all the time ‘cause her shoulders bow underneath all that work and worry and get nothin’ in return that’s why her feet are planted in stubborn stance that’s why she don’t move, when others around her say move sometimes all a woman’s got is her push & pull against the grain and that’s how she survives how she plods underneath the pack & load she carries she carves out rows with determined grit if she likes you you might get a taste of her metallic wit flashing like silver starlight every now and again if she don’t like you she will give you nothin’ but raised hand and back turned attitude if you’re wise you’ll escape the eyes that rapier glare more serrated than words if you’re smart you’ll know better than to get into a kicking contest with a mule you’ll see that she’s had it tough in this world the same world that will never love her and see that she’s a jewel — will never recognize that black diamond gleam she brings to the world you’ll know what she knows the world only wants her for her sweat — step and groan [End Page 25] that’s why she keeps to her own clock ‘cause she knows she will never be fully realized or idealized not in this lifetime and she’s destined to die undervalued and overworked [End Page 26]

Glenis Redmond

Glenis Redmond is a native of Greenville, South Carolina. She graduated from Erskine College and completed an MFA in Poetry at Warren Wilson College. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and an NC Literary Fellowship Recipient from the North Carolina Arts Council and a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist.