Monday, May 16, 2016

Magic Hat May 16 2016

This is a collection of my favorite poems and one short story that I have written. Most of my work is pretty transparent because at times I refuse to obfuscate my message and it's intentional. I want people to know exactly what I'm feeling when I'm writing. I do this because I want to bring the reader a little closer to the text, a little closer to my experiences and ultimately to bring them a little bit closer to me. Enjoy.

“Anyone who speaks to members of his family knows that sharing a language does not mean that you share the rules governing the use of that language” (Erasure, 32).

Talk Dirty

Pale l'anglais,
(Speak English)
“Don't embarrass me”
English is what smart people speak 

There's a tug of war in mind
As it bobs and weaves
In and out of languages

Speaking hood to my friends
Speaking “academese” in class
Speaking Creole to my mother

Operating my cell phone in French
That feeling in the pit of my stomach
When I'm asked, “Why is your phone in French?” 

Accidentally speaking 
Or writing in the wrong language
Isn't cute at my age
My American born brother 
makes fun of the fact that
I still can't pronounce certain words

The feeling in the pit of my stomach when my accent
Slips out 
Reminding me of grade school 
When a little red haired boy told me 
That he too could speak “reggae” like me.

To White Girls Who Think Carrie Bradshaw Invented Name Plates

Didn't you hear?
It's all the rage
Girl, you better get you some Boxer Braids
Yes BOXER Braids
This week in Allure magazine
"You (Yes. YOU)Can Have an Afro"
It has an entire tutorial on how you can acquire "rag-curls"
Today on twitter Kylie Jenner takes Braids to a whole "New Level"
Don't Forget Marc Jacobs and his bantu...oh my bad "mini buns"
Don't get me started on Katy Perry's revolutionary "baby hairs" as the "newest trend"
Do you like it?
Does it feel good?
Are you feelin' it?
Are you capable of feelin' it?
Because you 
Keep dipping your fingers in our culture licking the middle one for best part of the of the sauce
And then washing your hands of us as you enjoy the luxury of returning to your former self
It's fun reveling in Blackness
Wearing it for an event, for a weekend
Like a trendy new jacket, you can take on and off at any moment
Hang it up
Then put it back on whenever whiteness feels just a little too cold on your skin

“Your name is still wonderful” (TweRk, 28).

Del Sol

It's all I have left
No images, No heirlooms 
Nothing linking the two of us
You were a gift to me
Your presence a present that
I long to unwrap
With the joy and anticipation 
Of a childhood Christmas morning

A name is all I have left
Tied to memories 
Engraved in sand too close to the tide
I refuse to let you wash away

And this name I have learned 
to love
to cherish
and to hold until death and I still won't part with it

Because I don't care to walk to down aisles 
To do so is treason
Because all I have left of you
Is our name

Hector Pieterson

It was my first day working with children in the township and I was scared despite the fact that I was assigned to work with kids between the ages of ten and fourteen. I was working with the oldest age group so it shouldn’t be too difficult. I stood in front of the class and I introduced myself . 
“Hi my name is Lisa and I’m going to be working with you guys this month. I want you all to introduce yourselves so that I can learn your names.”
One by one the children said their names and I would repeat after them.
”My name is Thando.”
“Hi Thando”
“My name is Mbali.”
“Mbali?” she nodded her head in agreement.
We went on with introductions for about five minutes until the last girl sitting way in the back didn’t tell me her name. I waved my hands to get her attention and she revealed the most beautiful smile. 
“You didn’t tell me your name?” she took a deep breath and she responded “(!!!!!!!!).” 
I couldn’t repeat it, I couldn’t even try to pronounce it. I was immediately filled with panic.
The children started laughing and pointing at me as I stood there with my mouth wide open. I had only heard Zulu, Xhosa, Sotha, Tsonga and Swati briefly in the crash language course that I was given upon my arrival and I had not retained any of it. I was embarrassed. South Africa has 11 national languages and each of my students could easily speak six or seven. Yet I was struggling with the pronunciation of one name. I looked at her and I thanked her for her introduction. As I walked away from her she said something under her breath.
“Owesifazane omhlophe.” 
Recess was about to begin, after I was done handing out sandwiches and fruit I saw Thando approaching me. 
She held on to my hand as she asked “Can I braid your hair?” 
“Does it look that bad?” she giggled but I knew that the heat in Lwandle had worked it's magic transforming my handiwork with my flat iron into a curly pouf.
As I sat on the swing set Thando started braiding my hair. 
“Lisa, can I ask you something?”
“You just did” I said, she looked at me and started laughing, then she continued.
“Are you Colored or are you Black?”
“Thando, I'm Black as hell!” she erupted with laughter and then she was silent for a very long time.
“You're not Black like me.”
I never understood the racial categories and I didn't know how to answer the question but I did know that it angered me. I wasn't angry with her, I was angry that there was the existence of this separation to begin with. I was angry about a lot of things, things that I don't even know how to put into words.

Some protest songs don't have words only sounds of pain
Because sometimes language fails you.

I went to Robben Island where Mandela was imprisoned. It was there that I learned what it meant to be “Colored.” From my understanding “Colored” is some type of reversed one drop rule. Mixed blood. They agonized over all of your features before they categorized you. Your nose, your lips, your hair.  Black is more than skin color there, it's culture and it's connected to language. I learned Afrikaans easily but I struggled with the Bantu languages. 
“I can teach you Xhosa” I was silent so she continued. “It sounds harder than it is but I can show you how to say her name.”
“Thando, I have a question, Can you tell me what she said to me inside”
“Sssssssshh ayye Mamlambo
“She called you a white woman.”
For a week during every lunch break I practiced until I felt dizzy, frustrated, and angry as my mouth tried desperately to latch on to the culture by attempting to hold on to words that ripped through my tongue. At that moment I realized that I was guilty of having wild fantasies about Africa in which my blackness was enough for instant assimilation. But instead I struggled to say names, struggled to find my way back home because the streets confused me just as much as the languages and I struggled to connect with my students. At the end of the week I saw her again. The little girl with biggest smile. I wanted to say her name, I had studied and practiced for this moment
“Qiniso izapa, wena unjani?” Her head snapped up and she smiled for me.
Amandla, Awethu.

This semester has been an amazing ride, thank you all for taking it with me.

One Love,

Lisa Del Sol

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