“I am overwhelmed by the grace
and persistence of my people.”

--Maya Angelou

She never was a girl,
This woman standing tall with
A hardness in her smile when she lets it show
Wrapping herself with barefoot splendor
In the pre-dawn light of another long day.

She bears the weight of her world:
Been toting water since she was four
Been walking scared in the dark while spirits
And the shadows of men follow her down forest paths
Fear singing in the back of her throat.

But this woman, she still dances in the dust.
“Dieu merci” she says and laughs—oh she laughs
She knows what it’s about, life, this crazy dance.
She knows the bittersweet taste of it and what it means
For her children: her girls who have never been girls
Her boys who may never be men.

She knows and she gives back all she can of grace
She knows and she gives it back, this woman
Laboring in the dust, these women dark and precious
Singing their hopes to the African dawn
At the birth of another long day.


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