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Thursday, February 11, 2016


by Lind Grant-Oyeye

Cornrow Braiding Originates in Africa: Like many other “Africanisms” in the new world, knowledge of African hairstyles survived the Middle Passage. Heads were often shaved upon capture, ostensibly for sanitary reasons, but with the psychological impact of being stripped of one’s culture. Re-establishing traditional hair styles in the new world was thus an act of resistance; one that could be carried out covertly. Photo source: Yarbrough, Camille. Cornrows. (with illustrations by Carol Byard). Coward, McCann & Geoghegan 1979 via Cornrow Curves.

“Those rows in the backfield, they need more water,”
Mom whispered.
“More cow dung,” Dad claimed.
I guess he meant more carefully manicured manure.

It’s not as if I am new to this old field.
It’s not as if I am a hired hand or something.

I have planted these rows before, seen rain
change to sunshine, change to rain.
I have seen floods like tears run through
old furrows between rows, between hard dust.
I have carefully tended these corn rows before.
I have even pictured them growing firm roots.

Lind Grant-Oyeye was born in Nigeria. She has work published in several literary magazines world wide and recently won the UHRSN human rights poetry award.