The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: “My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter” by Aja Monet

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“the ways of the many”

you rise a witch bleeding gently in morning
fanning flies from fruit
you slice an avocado open and spoon the pit out
sprinkle sea salt and cayenne pepper
put a pot to boil on the stove
stuff sage and rosebud in a strainer
your hair is messy, eye boogers in the corners
you smell like a sleeping beauty who sweat
her kinks out in the second coming
like sticky dates in soiled hands
olive and enchanted
like bronzed blood panties
washed and hung from a clothes line midafternoon
you are a wildflower just after a thunderstorm
guava juice dripping on a chin
you are what is graceless
hardly regal before noon


This selection comes from the collection My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter, available from Haymarket Books. Order your copy here. Our curator for May is Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie.

Aja Monet is a Caribbean-American poet, performer, and educator from Brooklyn. She has been awarded the Andrea Klein Willison Prize for Poetry and the Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam title, as well as the New York City YWCA’s “One to Watch Award.” She is the author of The Black Unicorn Sings and the co-editor, with Saul Williams, of Chorus: A Literary Mixtape. She lives in Little Haiti, Miami, where she is a co-founder of Smoke Signals Studio and dedicates her time merging arts and culture in community organizing with the Dream Defenders and the Community Justice Project. Her first full collection of poems My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter was released this month.

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie is the author of Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation (Grand Concourse Press) and Karma’s Footsteps (Flipped Eye Publishing). Her work has been published in North American Review, WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, Black Renaissance Noire, VIDA, Crab Orchard Review, BOMB, Paris/Atlantic, and Listen Up! (One World Ballantine). Ekere has travelled across the United States sharing her poetry and ideas about healing. She has taught in New York, London, Amsterdam and Rundu, Namibia. Ekere earned an MFA from Mills College in 2002. She is a mother of three girls and an enthusiast of plant medicine making. Her cinepoems, herbal classes, and other work can be found here.

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