African Mother

Senecio by Paul Klee 1922

“Senecio” by Paul Klee, 1922


You, penile breasted.

You, who sit like a judge,

your whirligig head, your wooden plaits

flat on your brow.

You, who prop one breast up.

The child in your lap stops a moment

from sucking and accuses me too.

Red scrapes through the brown

paint as if to give life to those sketchy places

where your god thought life was supposed to be.

Flushed cheeks, thighs, breasts–all glow with it,

and you are caught in a moment of suckling,

aiming your nipple straight at me, cupping

the other hand under your toothpick child. You wait

for earrings and dust, have places for both

as you angle yourself to a stool. Fat toes, one

chipped from your careless life, you sit flat, and in state,

regal as Hitler, baiting me. So

I guess you were right–I was trying to say something.

The knob on your belly seems a clit,

a pushbutton womb with no hint of blood. Stool of

teeth bites your bare buttocks and I let it happen.

Bony-broad shoulders hover above your child. Your child,

enigma, boy or boy-girl, plaited as you are,

skull like a medication, a capsule to take

her somewhere else. The Eucharist disk of your

head does not forgive.


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