Exquisite Consequences is a fortnightly game of literary tag, where the only rule is that each piece must begin with the last line of the work preceding it.
(Black Folk Dancing)
by Caoimhe H-L
I will put my heart and time and breath
In what the bumblebees have told me:
There is always time to dance.
Six years old, I am wrapped
In family function pink as
The aunties scrape my copper wire hair
so sweet so pretty so pale
Into twin plaits and laid them down my back,
Railway tracks between here and West Dubbo.
Nana, do ladies dance? Nana, aren’t
Most bees ladies? Don’t they
Talk when they dance and
Shake their be-hinds like you said those girls
On the television do?
that’s enough honey just drink your water
and godssake keep those knees together
Twelve years old and my teacher rolls the television in
On a too-hot too-little too-late Reconciliation Day.
The video starts with static and a faraway voice
So my teacher slaps the screen like a disobedient cheek
Until shirtless men stamp their feet
Drone click clack clap-
Sticks burrowing under skin —
Ticks and splinters.
Nana, do black folk dance?
She sits me down, twelve years old
Holds the truth under her tongue like a cherrystone.
be lucky you have your father’s complex-
ion alright you never ever have to dance like that
My Nana told me a lot of things.
My Nana always told me
To never swallow the stones.
My lover drives me over mountains
And I make a stop for roadside honey,
Five dollars a jar.
The vendor’s round and browned and dusty
Abrupt like aunties always are.
Who’s ya nan?
Sticky-sweet glues my tongue in place
But I swallow hard to tell her.
Thought as much, darl.
That red hair don’t fool me none.
Nana, do black folk talk?
Can they share shady trees and swap honey toast?
Even ones like me?
Nana, I’m just calling you to say
That we’re on the road back home now,
And I hope that it’s okay,
But I’ll be dancing the whole way.