Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge!

I see my life


I see my life by my son's
eyes    know his mind is in some
part my own    that he carries
me as he moves through the world.
I am some percent of the
sum of my mother and my
father    of the grandparents
the old ones from whom l get
the shape of my hands    my head
maybe my walk and the eyes
that stare from this face. I don't
know all that comes through them to
me and him who are now their
factors in the world. Yet I
am me; he is he.


                     We're named
in the sight of the people
in our family houses
in each of our own hearts. I
didn't learn how to call myself
until I was twenty-four.
I cling to the secret child-
hood names only a very
few can know.
                     I gave my son
four names; he added two more.
In the privacy of his
own room he calls himself by
others I may never know.


My son springs up from the bottom
of the pool    head back    eyes dosed
water sheeting his body
with light and caught like stars in
the dark burrs of his hair. It's
not the sun whose shine dances
on the waves. That is his face.
And although I see the name
he has named himself I would
never tell it even if
my mind    my mouth    could say it.

Written by Sherley Anne Williams (1944-1999)


Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge