proud women in bright wrappers

middle of dry season, nomadic traders passing through,
their children (no taller than we were) driving drought-
thinned cattle up toward the plateau, and we would
follow after at a distance with our razorblades in hand,

look for gems, butterflies pressed flat by passing
hooves, incise the dry clay beneath and lift them,
save them on small trays, carry them to an artist who
affixed them to white paper — or, for those largest

and most perfect, crushed black velvet in a frame —
collage them into women, the women we hoped
we’d grow to be: proud women in bright wrappers
with large headscarves, grace and balance carrying

bundled firewood, calabashes of gathered greens,
clay pots of water on their heads, women with
their sleeping children snugged tight behind their
shoulders, women at the mortar pounding yam


A childhood memory prompted by an entry at The Morning Porch. To see samples of this type of wing collage, search for “vintage African butterfly art women” in Google – Images.

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