freedom cartography

Smack! I open my eyes as a tear escapes down my cheek. “Stop moving,” auntie says, a glare darkening her eyes. I cannot mess up her masterpiece. I close my eyes and her hands are not hers again. We sit in a town of mothers tending to the afros between their legs.

Stop moving or you’ll mess up my parts. left right Stop moving or you won’t know where to go left right part through the woods part behind the guardhouse part again you will see a light on your right left right stop moving, make sure you cover your head left part right don’t stop moving until you see Willie by the boathouse right left part he gone take you with him. he gone right left take you north just follow left right

this stitch, it’s gone take you right to him the left the right the crossing. the stars north of the shell bring you to the river. south of the bead brings you home left right left don’t stop moving left right till he tell you left right just follow my hand, my mother’s hand, her mother’s hand. the underground. the patchwork. I feel the pull of the last braid, open my eyes as her hands contract (are just hers again). the shea butter is Sulfur 8 and Jam again and the running ends in a mist of oil sheen. I rise, run to the mirror to finger my map and tie my printed scarf taut, sure to leave a line in the morning. “Go find your sister,” auntie says. “It’s her turn.”


Edythe Rodriguez is a Philly-based poet who studied Africology and Poetry at Temple University. As an African Renaissance poet, her poetry is a call for aggressive healing, protection of our African selves, and sankofa. She is a 2020 fellow of The Watering Hole and her work can be found in Tulane Review, Philadelphia Stories, Call and Response Journal, and Bayou Magazine.

Photo by Ameer Basheer on Unsplash

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