In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Linea Nigra
  • Nikky Finney (bio)

On the occasion of the death of my father, December 3, 2017, and the death of a Black girl living near you

It was 79 degrees when I was born,sunny, there was wind, monarchbutterflies frantically migrated thefive thousand miles from Canadato Mexico, I loved being a Black girl,

back then, at the beginning, Daddylifted me up after school, his baby-blue Electra 225 pointing to our place,lost land of black swans with wideNegro red lips, balding cypress

tupelo gums in drag, pushingshowy out of shiny black water,before the coming of shapely legsand bright-eyed breasts, beforeknowing I was hunted, he would [End Page 1]

open the back door of the Buick,Climb in, I would lie back, all theway flat, position Y, just beneaththe long back window curling in,cupola and nib, new hips secure,

thin black line of my long Blackgirl body poured into a warmcrystal pan, in place, my armsready at my side, my longest toesreach-tipping into the overhead,

spread Black girl eagle in the longback capsule of the super silverDeuce and a Quarter, with fenderskirts, he would shift it down,a slow creep, a whitewall skulk,

through the former land of ivory-billed woodpeckers, as close tothe shiny black swamp as we couldcrawl, our one-car parade snail-inching, the red ticking mud alive,

my eyes fashioned into jeweledperiscopes, floating high abovelilac Japanese irises, toweringcanopies of biscuit magnolia,silently watching for the arrival, [End Page 2]

the most golden mortise of afterafternoon sunlight, Such are thevicissitudes of life, my girlfingers tracing the glass of here,past there, in between green-blue

waves, along the warm curve ofthe long tempered see-through,we had left the floodplains, enterwarbler & birds of prey, secondbirth, my eyes kept interest &

invitation, while he kept watchon the black swans squawk-waddling into their nests nearbustle skirts of thirsty gay tupelos,their fountainheads of Spanish

hair, keeping time, lost, floating,his minutiae-by-minute report,the S-curved line of dusky swans,now fighting, now resting, withswamp-wide Negro red lips,

The bird is in your hands, he'dreport, I'd swallow, the slidingdarkly skinned encyclopedia ofsteel pressing forward like the page,ruffle formation, right then left, [End Page 3]

the rising hot balloon of my ownnibbling mind, his only girl, supine& flat in Black girl flat space,before the U.N. peacekeepersarrived on tiptoe, wasting no time

in pulling me out, feet first, tolay me on their ground, 6,922miles back across the aging sea,where my arms were tied abovemy head to the small waist of

a rubber tree, where their wilddogs sniffed then parted my legswith their wet snouts, straddledand poked until they, at long last,shook then vaporized back into

the quiet woods, hornlike peace-keepers with their useless ringof keys, their hands plunged &MJ'ed between the khaki thighsof their peacekeeping uniforms,

there & then, the time of lovingto be a Black girl, Mama hummedwhile oiling my hair at night, beforesleep in the twin bed, in the shoe-box bedroom, with the crouching [End Page 4]

window that opened to the knottylove seat arms of a chinaberry,where we lived in the tiny mother-of-pearl house on West OaklandAvenue, where one giant fuchsia

and one giant eggplant azaleapreened each year into the dawnof Easter, twin boutonnierespinned to the grassy lapel of ourtiny front yard across from the

park, where girls like me suckedPixy Stix and hula-hooped onone end of the basketball court,where boys like me ate AtomicFireballs, hooping and hollering

on the other, including LudieMae, her one hand, day in, dayout, titty-tight inside her left-hand catcher's mitt, Ludie Mae,who wanted more than a girl's

life, who played hard, hardest,harder with the boys, twice asbetter and one-half a boy herself at all...


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