Grandma, a poem / by Edna Bonhomme

I am currently in Miami visiting family, mostly ironing out the ways that my kin have been tied to various lands, spaces, and their bodies. I am working on a poetry series that is an ongoing of the past and the present, the familial and the environmental. This is one of the current works in progress.

Grandma

Figure. From left to right: Aunt Melo, Grandma, Jean, and Aunt Fifi.

Figure. From left to right: Aunt Melo, Grandma, Jean, and Aunt Fifi.

Summer of 1996

was the first time that I learned about who grandma was

she transformed from the stern matriarch

who tried to suppress her Parkinson’s

into the fierce warrior

who glided through the Haitian landscape

Grandma learned to ride horses

in the arid desert

when I could barely ride a bicycle

she rode horses

not because she wanted to

but because they allowed her

to cut across

the rugged mountains protruding

from the sacred earth

and

the estuaries that were pulled

by the lunar gods

Grandma would ride past

the cacti where the Arawaks lived

Columbus was here

But even more troubling

is that

the Indigenous are not

Small-scale sharecroppers like

grandma could cultivate the land

during drought to produce:

plantains

corn

beans

Staples that fed the people

from Benin, Dahomey, and Senegambia

When my grandmother rode horses

she put her wavy hair into a bun

because

unruly curls could never vex her seers.

Women who rode horses

were incendiary because

they knew how to be free.

Copyright: Edna Bonhomme, 2019.