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Writer. Educator. Artist. 



oshun cover3.jpg

Oshun's Book of Mirrors

A Children's Book by

Asia Rainey-Ani,

Illustrated by Cherie Mays

{Chin Music Press}

Purchase Online


Grandmother said she came from the country

Where tree branches still hung heavy from noosed cadavers

Where you ate what you planted

Where the Virgin Mary sat in for forgotten deities

She said her mama

And her mama’s mama

Prayed like hands twisting cotton

Said you gotta keep picking even when it hurts

And you work even when you don’t know when free is coming

Said she learned to pray in the dark

Said prayers are requests to everything listening

So be careful what you ask for


Grandmother said I only knew her as grey haired and plump

Said I didn’t know her wild days

Said I didn’t smell her whiskey and gunpowder

Said I never saw her hips sin in slow circles

Said she ain’t always been old but she would keep spring

Just beneath her feet

Said I didn’t know nothing yet about changing


Grandmother said she sat at Woolworth lunch counters

Said she let the spit slide down her cheek

Said it wasn’t hers

Said she let the hate slide off her soul

Said she ate her pie slow

Said she sat down so I could stand up

And know how to get back up when knocked down

Said I better learn to pay attention

To what folks didn’t say


Grandmother said she straightened their hair

Day in and day out with hot combs sizzling like blacksmith irons

Said them women tried to press out their oppression

Said it never did

Said she would only pull the kinks from my hair

On holidays

Said I wouldn’t ever be Shirley Temple

But it was all right to wear these curls

Said she didn’t want me forgetting

The rough side of my roots


Grandmother said they wondered why

She didn’t have no man, now

Said she had a man til he raised his fists

Said when her brothers raised theirs, grandfather

Wasn’t ever coming back in

Said her shotgun stayed stocked with shells

Said love ain’t supposed to make you 

Lose yourself in a shadow

Said you better stay in the sun


Grandmother said I was her baby

Said I was sweet-beautiful like brown sugar

Said I was smart like old eyes and thick trees

Said she would hug me as long as she could 

Said everybody won’t know how

Said I better move like water

Because ain’t nothing staying still


I can still hear her

When my pots sizzle

When I hum deep in my throat

When I beat back tears

When I throw back my shoulders and lift my chin

When I kick doors in

When I walk as if I am a moving mountain

When I scream

When I pray out loud

When I become something bigger than

Everybody expected

I can still hear her

When I speak words that seem to come from

Nowhere and everywhere at the same time

I can still hear her, while

I become everything she said

I could.

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