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Published July 20, 2007

Selected Poems by Aracelis Girmay
TEETH
for cousin Gedion, who drove us to Massawa

Two sisters ride down with us.
It is liberation day in Massawa.

The older sister is the color of injera; her teeth are big
& stuck-out.
The younger sister is a cinnamon stick.

Their almond eyes are the same.
Ink black hair falls beautiful down both their backs.

I see that you love one of them & change my mind
many times about who I think it is.

Months later, I will show their photographs to my father
who will laugh & say he knows.

"It is this one," he will say, surely, pointing
to the woman whose teeth stay, tame, in her mouth.

But what man would choose a woman
whose mouth looks stronger than his hands?

Know, Cousin, I pray there is love
between you & the older one
whose teeth might be bullets of ivory;

I imagine from this mouth:
    kites,
    rain,
    ax equal to lace, the yellow & lick
    of a jar filled with
    the sweet of stinging bees.


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