Strip(p)ed – Tayoshe Aluko

Tell them

You used to weave fabrics:

 

You

Pulled golden threads through 

Ivory patterns; Tightened cotton 

Knots into thin cloths; 

 

Your 

Joints rolling like the song

That sat at the tip of your

Tongue; You and your boys

Singing, braiding melodies in-

To the sequin;

 

                         Never stopping to check

If you’d done something wrong; Your

Body knew the rhythm; Your fingers

Sang the lead.

 

Tell them

You were in love then;

 

She 

Spoke softly, sweetly; And

Smiled brighter than a newly-

Rolled yarn;

 

Her

Dimples diving deeper into her

Rounded cheeks; Her eyes

Squinting as she batted her lids; 

Melting your heart when she walked

By the shack;

 

                         Never walking straight to

Your seat; Only staying for a few

Seconds; Discreet, but clear.

Tell them

You were in love then;

 

You

Sold ten fabrics each market; 

Steady enough to start a house; 

And maybe take a wife; 

 

Your

Heart racing at the thought of having

The woman you loved; Just as sudd-

Enly breaking as you hear the panic;

The Governor’s men had come to

Town; And 

 

                         Not in friendly spirits; Your 

Friend shouted from afar; “Put away

Your tools, don’t let them see the

Cloths.”

 

Tell them 

How it all ended:

 

They 

Set the shack on fire; And burnt 

The yarns; Took all the cloths; And

Broke the weavers’ hands;

 

Their 

Cheeks reddening in the sunlight; 

Imperialistic smiles plastered on 

Their faces as their leader read 

A note from Sir Richard,”

 

                         “Never again should I

Have to repeat this; Refrain

From your local cotton; Re-

Placements will be provided. 

 

Tell them

What you told her:

 

You 

Had looked for the new fabric 

That you wove for her; As

A proposal gift; You were going to;

 

Your

Voice shaking uncontrollably as

You showed her your broken 

Fingers; Told her about the fabric

And your proposal plans;

 

                         Never expecting her to ask;

How did you feel? What did it look 

Like? “It was (I am) strip(p)ed.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s