Teeth – Aracelis Girmay

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.


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