Kaffir Lily

I work with an actress every so often-
I give her long sleeves to gesture with, and she gives me her patience, and conversation about women, and writing, and community, and I consume the time we share in the dressing room -me sewing buttons between monologues while she paints her face with glitter- the way I feed on books; too fast, gulping at words and concepts, rushing to get to the next course, because I will not see her for another few years, when we will meet by fate or the grace of William Shakespeare.

kaffir-3x5x721Bianca Spriggs is a poet, and I see her on the local PBS station where the term Affrilachian Artist is used to describe a literary movement, which I find both exciting and excluding -I want to be a part of something with so much definition, such identity- and I listen, smiling at the voice I’ve heard as a witch, as an Egyptian handmaiden, as a queen, and I am, as always, pulled into her voice.

I just found KAFFIR LILY in the funky coffee shop around the corner from the Caribbean cafe that has no place in this town (except this town is contrary like that, so it has one). In all our talk backstage this summer, she never told me she had a book.

It’s a slim book and reads like an actress trying on costumes: some poems svelte and lemonade fresh, some with urban rhinestone attitude, and some soft, gamine and curvy, but they are all feminine, and observant, eyes wide open and drinking in life.
From “The Switch Pickers” and “Masquerade of Queens,” to “Juke Dreams” and “My Kinda Woman,” they all have good titles. I have no favorite, though I read some more than once, and “Still Life” three, but lines find me through the day, like the echo of an imagined phone:
Tall drink of water, she got a secret sort of smile-
And some follow after, whispering like the train of a dress:
Their fragrance, an opiate,
seeps through the house from his speakers,
overlapping in heady arrangements.
He happens to be an alchemist
of genre fusion, of the hybrid bloom.

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