Trading Beads by Yvonne

In three clear plastic bowls, each with a lid,
Saved from chicken livers bought as far
Back as the Bicentennial, I laid—
Nothing precious like pearls or any fire
Plucked from earth by perilous desire—
But three strands of West Indian beads.
Pink. Blue. Rainbow. Desiccated seeds.

A ‘Sixties college craze like my Greek
Peasant bag (book-crammed), these beads speak
Honest folkways to my old union labels,
All-American head to toe—even unmentionables.
Motherland glimmer. Not global harbinger
In the ‘hood. But within. A bright Black shout.
It was summer. Not winter. Hope. Not doubt.

First poetry editor of pioneer feminist magazines, Aphra and Ms., Yvonne received poetry awards including from NEA (1974, 1984) and from Leeway (2003) for fiction (as Yvonne Chism-Peace). Some anthologies featuring her poems are: 161 One-Minute Monologues from Literature, This Sporting Life, Catholic Girls, Tangled Vines, Celebrations: A New Anthology of Black American Poetry, We Become New, Bosque Press #8, and Pushcart. In-progress is a verse memoir of her ‘Fifties youth.


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