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will you understand it

If I say “we goin’ to hell in a handbasket”, will you know what I mean?
Will you try to excavate meaning? Will you be mean?
If my grandmother breathes, will you try to eat her language?
Will it frighten you? Will it consume you? Will it comfort you?
We be etymologically unrecognized. Collard green stuck to teeth.
Mammie come MAGIC NEGRO with Old World wisdom.
If an enslaved person cries, do they make that undulating sound?
We be inventors of language, deception of tongue and too legit to quit.
How many syllables, how much syntax, how many “s” dropped?
When does an heirloom lose meaning? A phrase is just a phrase.
Extirpate loss. Hand Me Downs define us. This garb, how we present.
We could disappear in an instant.

Ashia Ajani (she/they) is a queer Black storyteller from Denver, CO, Queen City of the Plains. She has been published in The Journal, Sage Magazine, and the Hopper Literary Magazine, among others. She released her first chapbook, We Bleed Like Mango, in October 2017. Follow her on instagram: @ashiainbloom.

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