YOU EVER GONE TO A WOMAN’S APARTMENT IN THE PROJECTS  WITH                  YOUR GRANDMA TO GET YOUR HAIR  BRAIDED EARLY ON A  WEEKEND

AND   THE    WOMAN    OPENS THE    DOOR    IN   A  TANK   TOP   SOME LEGGINGS HER HAND   ON HER HIP THE SINGLES  BRAIDS TO HER BUTT ARE SKINNY AS HER  STOMACH AND THIGHS ARENT AND HER NAME IS KEISHA  AND HER  HANDS  ARE  HARD  WITH  KNUCKLE  DIMPLES  AND  HER  HOUSE SMELLS LIKE BACON  GREASE AND  AUNT  JEMIMA  SYRUP  THE  HOUSE HAS LINOLEUM FLOORS EVERYWHERE AND  YOU ASK HER WHERE YOU SHOULD SIT WITH THE TWO GIANT PLASTIC BAGS WITH 6 OR  MAYBE   8  PACKS  OF  JUMBO    RASTAFARI   KINKY   STRAIGHT   1B  HAIR   A  RAT  TAIL   COMB   SOME  CONDITIONER    SOME  GEL  AND A  BRUSH SHE  TELLS    YOU  TO PUT   THE BAG  AND  YOURSELF   ON  THE FLOOR  AND   PLOPS  A PILLOW  BETWEEN HER  FEET AND    SUDDENLY  YOURE SITTING   BETWEEN  THE WARM THIGHS OF A  WOMAN YOUVE NEVER MET   AND   SHE FEELS    LIKE YOUR  MOTHER IN THIS MOMENT          

EVEN  THOUGH THEYRE  NOTHING  ALIKE  AND YOUR MOTHERS  NAME

IS      LELIA            NOT      KEISHA       AND       CANT          BRAID        HAIR  

 

 

THE  FURNITURE IN  KEISHA'S LOOKS LIKE YOUR  COUSIN’S IN SAN  JOSE AND ACTUALLY A LOT OF THE BLACK PEOPLE YOU KNOW HER COUCH IS SOME  TYPE  OF SUPPOSED  TO SEEM  LIKE VELVET  WITH  SHINY BLACK SCROLLING LEGS AND THE TABLE IS GLASS ON METAL WELDED CURVED LOOKING  PIPES  AND YOU THINK  OF  SUMMER  FIGHTING  WITH YOUR COUSINS      AND      WHEN     HE       BROKE       THE          SAME      TABLE

KEISHA   OPENS   A   PACK   OF    HAIR   LIKE  A FIRST    CHAIR   VIOLINIST UNSHEATHING    THEIR   INSTRUMENT   AND    YOU   THINK   MAYBE   IN ANOTHER  LIFE  SHE   COULDVE  BEEN  SOME  TYPE  OF  ARTIST  IF ONLY

BLACK                                     WOMEN                                                     WERE

DA VINCI OR

PICASSO OR

BASQUIAT

AND NOT

                                                           RIPPED

                    OFF                                                                                           

                                                                                                                

                                                    INSTEAD

SHE  SPREADS   HER    ARMS    AND   STRETCHES THE    HAIR AND      THE SYNTHETIC  FIBERS    STRETCHING   SOUNDS  LIKE SOME   SOFT  BUBBLE WRAP SYMPHONY AND SHE ASKS HOW LONG YOU WANT YOUR BRAIDS AND YOU POINT TO A PLACE DOWN YOUR BACK AND SHE SAYS WE GON BE HERE FOR A WHILE  LIKE WE  HAVE  BEEN BEFORE  THIS WAS  ABOUT

BRAIDING  AND  YOU ASK  FOR  ANOTHER  PILLOW  AS  SHE FREES YOUR

HAIR SHE SCRATCHES YOUR SCALP WITH HER ACRYLICS AND YOU THINK OF           HER                AS                YOUR                   MOTHER            AGAIN

 

 

 

SHE TELLS   YOU   LIKE     EVERYONE    ELSE     WHOS   EVER    HAD  THEIR

HANDS IN YOUR HEAD  THAT YOUR HAIR  IS   SO  THICK  AND SHE  SIGHS   

LIKE WHOOOOOO   YOUR HAIR   IS SO THICK   AND YOU  NEVER   KNOW IF  THIS                     IS               AN                                                                INSULT

 

KEISHA  PARTS  YOUR  HAIR  WITH THE  NEW COMB AND IT HURTS  AND YOUR NECK FEELS LIKE BRICKS AND ITS HARD LOOK AT YOUR PHONE OR AT ANYTHING OTHER THAN YOUR OWN BREASTS AND YOU FALL ASLEEP AND  WAKE  UP  SOME   ROWS  LATER  WITH A  KINK AND   KEISHA  AND YOUR  GRANDMA  LAUGHING  UGLY GOSSIPING  AND  YOU  HEAR YOUR GRANDMA  CUSS  AND WONDER  HOW  YOUR  GRANDMA WHO PICKED UP EVERYTHING WHEN SHE WAS 17  AND FLED  FROM  HER MOM WHO SHOT  HER WITH  HER TONGUE  AT POINT  BLANK FOR  FUN, MOVED TO CHICAGO  AND  NEVER LOOKED  BACK  AND WAS A  SEAMSTRESS   WHO WAS COURTED AFTER  WITH HER OWN KITCHENETTE AND FELL IN LOVE OR  COMFORT OR JUST  SETTLED   AND LET  SOMEONE  LOVE  HER  AND GOT    PREGNANT   AND   PICKED   UP  EVERYTHING    AND   MOVED   TO CALIFORNIA  AND  NEVER  LOOKED  BACK  WITH  A  BOY  WHO  IS  YOUR FATHER  WHO  WAS  SO WILD  AND  TREATS   HER  LIKE   DIRT AND SPITS SHELLS  MAKING  ALL HER  HOMES  GUN  RANGE HOW A WOMAN WHO PICKED  EVERYTHING  UP  WITH  HER  OWN  HANDS  AND   SHE  THREW HERSELF WITHOUT FEAR FAR ENOUGH TO BREATHE HOW COULD TURN INTO A WOMAN  WHO ONLY WEARS  COLLAR  SHIRTS AND SWEATSUITS

 

YOU WONDER IF YOU ARE COLLAR SHIRTS AND SWEATSUITS OR WILL BE      

                    SOMEDAY

 

KEISHA  SAYS  TURN  YOUR  HEAD AND  FINISHES  TELLING MEMA  HOW HER SON IS JUST SO SMART BUT IS  FAILING ALL CLASSES BUT FOOTBALL JUST  GOT INTO  ANOTHER  FIGHT AND  THAT  HIS  DUMBASS IS GONNA GET EXPELLED  AND  WHAT  WOULD   SHE  DO  WHAT  WOULD  SHE  DO WHAT  WOULD  SHE  DO AND  MEMA   SAYS  GIIIIRRRLLL  LORDY  LORDY

 

I     DON’T     KNOW     AND       KEISHA      SAYS    TURN      YOUR      HEAD

WHEN YOU GO  TO  THE  BATHROOM  WITH  A  3/4TH DONE  HEAD YOU FLIP ALL  THAT WILL  AND DANCE A  LITTLE  IN THE  MIRROR YOUR BACK FEELS LIKE CEMENT YOUR NECK FEELS  LIKE CEMENT AND YOUR BUTT A SIDEWALK                    FROM                ALL                 THAT                SITTING

 

WHEN YOU  GET  BACK TO THE  LIVING   ROOM KEISHA  STILL  DONESNT KNOW WHAT  SHES GONNA  DO  ABOUT  SOMETHING  ELSE   NOW AND AFTER HOWEVER   MANY   EPISODES   OF   DIVORCE  COURT  LATER  SHE CLAPS  HER  HANDS    MASSAGES   HER    FINGERS  CRACKS HER  DIMPLE KNUCKLES AND  SAYS ALL DONE AND MEMA SAYS SOOKIE SOOKIE NOW CHILD I    JUST   DONT  KNOW  HOW  YOU  SIT  THAT  LONG  WITH  YOUR HANDS IN  SOMEONES  HEAD AND  KEISHA SAYS  CUZ IT  PAYS THE BILLS

AND THEY  BOTH LAUGH  AND KEISHA   GOES OVER  TO THE   STOVE  TO

BOIL  SOME WATER AND ASKS IF YOU WANT THEM CRIMPED TO WHICH

YOU SAY YES BECAUSE ITS  2010 AND  THE  WATER  BOILS OVER  ON THE WHITE GAS  STOVE  AND KEISHA POURS  IT INTO A  PITCHER  AND ADDS SOME    GEL    AND      OIL     AND      RAISES    HER    ARMS   AGAIN   LIKE

DA VINCI OR

PICASSO OR

BASQUIAT

AND   MAKES   MASTERPIECE   AGAIN   TAKES   SECTIONS OF  YOUR HAIR THROUGH  THE WALL  OF STEAM  TO  BAPTIZE  IN THE  BOILING  BROTH

 

AS  YOU   GATHER  YOUR  THINGS GRANDMA   PAYS KEISHA  IN ALL  20’S

AND WHITE STEAMING  WATER  DRIPS  FROM  THE ENDS OF YOUR HAIR

TO THE  FLOOR  TELLING  THE  WORLD  EVERYWHERE  YOU CAME FROM

 

AND   YOU   THINK   THAT   AFTER  SPENDING  8 HOURS  BETWEEN   THE THIGHS OF A  WOMAN WHO DOESNT KNOW WHAT SHES GOING TO DO SHOULD  MEAN  THAT  YOU HUG HER  AND  SHE   KISSES   YOU  ON  THE CHEEK  LIKE    AN    AUNTIE  BUT   IT  DOESNT   IT   JUST   MEANS  YOURE BLACK SO  YOU SAY  BYE AND  THANK YOU  TO KEISHA AND MEMA SAYS THANK YOU  AND  GOOD  LUCK  WITH   EVERYTHING  KEISHA  SAYS OH  I KNOW  ITS GON  WORK OUT AND YOU LEAVE THE THIGHS THE WOMAN AND         HER                     LINOLEUM               FLOORS                     BEHIND