Keeping Water in a Bucket

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Each day I peeled a little brown from the potato-

My sensuous roots gone along with my

uniqueness, and my body that moved to

rhythms across the shore.

Straight-haired dialect fumbled

from my lips, tripping over teeth

like a ballerina’s grace to the sudden

beat of a drum.

My Home Ec. teacher told me not a

speck of brown can show

before it is mashed, before it is eaten.

Others nodded subtly-subtle like a

teaspoon of arsenic in a bowl of good soup.

I listened because nobody told me it was okay

to add a honey, girl, humph, and

ain’t that someth’ chile.

Words were ripped

from the ends of my sentences like

babies taken from the bosoms’ of slaves.

Nobody told me it was okay to sway

and swagger my hips to bass.

Nobody told me to hang on to this

because it was good for my soul.

It was… my soul.

Nobody told me I could embrace

their culture without

letting go of my own.

Nobody told me.

Nobody told me.

Nobody…told me.


By Shawn R. Jones


Author of the devotional book, Pictures in Glass Frames

and the poetry chapbook, Womb Rain,

4 Responses

  1. Striking poem/entry, Shawn. You hooked me with the first line. So evocative!

  2. Lynda A Hardy-Andrews says:

    Your poetry spoke to my inner being, awakening something deeply tucked within, that needs to be set free… I loved it

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