Poetry Archive

How You Were Made

In the sop and swirl of a warm place
we were dancers
you, your daddy, and I
after days of moan and ache.

You were the funky plie of bean pies
brought from bow tied disciples under
the overpass.  Daddy was the cool side step
of biscuits, grits and salmon croquettes
on the lazy days
and I was the rolling hip bone of the Christmas Eve gumbo pot
and Santa Claus go Straight to the Ghetto

You were not made
in a slow waltz and curtsy
but in the hustle and bump
of a kitchen witch
and her man.
You were created
in the sweet swell of a slow drag
while al green
stirred our pots.

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Filed under: Poetry Archive


Kelly Norman Ellis is an associate professor of English and director of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Chicago State University. She is the author of Tougaloo Blues and co-editor of Spaces Between Us: Poetry, Prose and Art on AIDS/HIV, both from Third World Press. Her work has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Sou’Wester, PMS (Poem, Memoir, Story), Tidal Basin Review, Calyx, and The Ringing Ear. In 2010 Essence Magazine voted her one of their forty favorite poets. She is a Cave Canem Poetry Fellow and founding member of the Affrilachian Poets.