|Rachel Eliza Griffiths|
from Rachel Eliza Griffiths's Mule & Pear:
Pecola Breedlove Gives Geraldine a Piece of Her Mind
for Elizabeth Alexander, 2006
All the Geraldines of Ohio
gather in a parlor and serve me
macaroons, root beer with vanilla,
part my hair in eight sections
and lick my bald shame.
When the cat hit the wall I was sure it had enough
lives to keep its nature. What keeps you
hating the black you groom? I'm not sure.
Sometimes at night when the cats along the fence
shriek dirges and fuck the soft
bones that make their spines roll
like water do you get wet
along the lids of your eyes?
This small black thing your son
wants to kill — that face of fur
slipping behind the radiator, is
the beast of your home. If I turned
your Bible over where you clawed
and stroked the leather, the white eyes of
doilies might attack me. Day after day,
I pushed hunger out the alley of my legs.
We all waited for the baby. It couldn't live. I prayed
for blue eyes. I'd be Shirley Temple dancing with Bo Jangles.
When my stomach got so swole it made plain
vision double, the women walked down sidewalks
with hands over their mouths, trapping
words away from their good dresses.
Could it live?
I would like you to have this plate Do you like
my too-blue-to-sing eyes
Do you think my child will look like her father
my father a cracked plate secondhand
on a white windowsill near blueberry pie
A china plate edged with yellow trim
and sky-eyed cherubim — oh god
(when Cholly doesn't —
on the plate I washed iridescent suds and silence
while he crawled on his knees your Christian
women voices busy warming your own tombs
but on the plate a fleck of my skin dried brown
and blue fell soundlessly into old water
take these thoughts that mean nothing
to anybody without the color blue
Take this plate and feed the eyes
you can't stand to see
space of a black bitch you see
yourself Take this plate where my mind spoils
like meat Please don't let the cat be
anything but soft