What Elizabeth Bishop Could Not Know

By Afaa Michael Weaver

Black women keep secrets tied up in hankies
they stuff in their bras, secrets of how their necks
are connected to their spines in the precise gyration
of a jelly sweetened in nights they had to keep
to themselves, nights prowlers came in to change
the faces of their children, secrets like the good
googa mooga laughter they do with each other
when something affirms their suspicions, when
their eyes are made the prayerbooks of fate crafted
in the wisdom that knows there is no north or south
in black wandering, searching the new land, a song
they wrestle from black men, the broken ones
who had to be shown where and how to stand,
how to respect pain and the way it governs itself,
secrets, things made out of generations and not kept
in the glass selections of an old juke box.