2 March 2004 | Vol. 4, No. 1


for cousin gideon, who drove us to massawa

Two sisters ride down with us

to Massawa's liberation celebration.

One sister is the color of injera; her teeth are big and stuck-out.

One sister is a cinnamon stick.

Their almond eyes are the same.

The ink black hair falls beautiful down their backs.

I see that you love one of them & change my mind

many times about which I choose for you.

Months later, I will show their photographs to my father

who will laugh & say he knows,

'It is this one,' he will say, surely, pointing

to the woman whose teeth stay in her mouth.

               (What man will choose a woman

               whose mouth is stronger than his hands?)

But, cousin, for you I choose the older one

whose teeth might be bullets of ivory;

I imagine that from this mouth:



               ax equal to lace, the yellow & lick

               of a jar filled with

               the sweet of stinging bees.

About the author:

Aracelis Girmay is a writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Originally from California, she received her MFA from NYU. Girmay has worked as a writer-in-residence with the Community~Word Project and Teachers & Writers Collaborative, and is currently hard at work with the CARE project in her native Santa Ana. Among her most recent publications is the short story "girl medusa" (I Was There, anthology). She has been a featured poet at The Udi Adoni Project Room, the Bowery Poetry Club, Bar 13, Cornelia Street, and the New Jersey State Prison–Trenton, among others. A former Watson Fellow and a present Cave Canem Fellow, she loves her work as writer and educator—believes this work to be integral to social change. She also loves her loves—Yosef, Banna, and Ariana—who have taught her to move straight-backed in the world, with open eyes. She can be reached at .

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Aracelis Girmay at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 4, No. 1, where "Teeth" ran on March 2, 2004. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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