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In 1887, Moses dies, leaving Sarah alone with two-year-old A’lelia.

This poem is inspired by the life and times of Madame C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove).

I have lifted the still slick tongue of the man.
I have placed the coin—cool and heavy—beneath.
I have let the mouth swing shut. Relinquished
the blue-bruised body.

If there is such a thing as love, I have trembled
in its shadow—thick velvet cape
trailing, catching in the splintered floor.
I have wondered what type of woman
this shroud will become.

I have felt a small creature watching me
with cavernous eyes. In the night,
I have shown my mother-teeth.

Kanyinsola Anifowoshe

Illustration by Angela Huo

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