by JT Stewart
eat rapidly and dream truths
Dream of weaving kente cloth
Take the red silk threads
in your hands
slim and firm as new trees
Take also the threads of bright
yellow silk and give your
cloth a name
Name it River of Gold
if the king comes w/ his wife
name your cloth
When the queen comes to Accra
eat rapidly your black-eyed
peas and grits
Look out over the project roofs
the suburban lawn
Remember weaver woman
your home name reads Ashanti
Dream this into truth
References are to Ghana and its weaving tradition. Kente cloth = story telling cloth. Moreover, unlike other African cultures, weaving represents equal opportunity for both women and men. Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah wore a specially designed kente called "One man cannot rule a country". In 1957 Ghana became the first European colonized country in Africa to win its independence.
JT Stewart (poet, writer, playwright, editor, teacher) co-founded the Clarion West SF Writers' Workshop. Recently, she participated in POETS FOR CHANGE – an international reading of 100 k poets reading on a single day in 115 countries.
As a woman of African descent, she often writes about cultural collisions and the fortunes/misfortunes of people touched by diasporas – both real and imagined. Readers can sample her work in The Moment of Change: An Anthology of Feminist Speculative Poetry (Rose Lemberg, Ed.)
Placement of JT's poetry broadsides include: Western Washington University, the Seattle Art Museum, the Washington State Convention Center Galleries, and the Allen Library (University of Washington).
The audio for this poem was recorded at Jack Straw Productions.
Read JT's discussion of this poem over at the Roundtable!
Photography: adapted from Ashanti Kente Weaving III by Damien Halleux Radermecker.