top of page

 the GENDER issue / POETRY


Miss Graham Say...

(Or a Praise Song for Janie's Pear Tree)

by Ra Malika Imhotep

“one day the children asked

why grandma always sittin 

on the porch with her legs wide-open

and the grown folks answered

she keepin the flies off her watermelon


and i can see her

clutching her knees in a fit

of laughter, her lips curled

to smile, her eyes coy

in their gentle humor.


i laugh before understanding

the joke – this funk,

the open-legged bait,

grandma’s body a living thing

its organisms courting

other bodies.


a sweet lure

protecting her fruit.



i sit between open legs,

other fingers greasing my parts 


i inhale deep and don’t say nothin’


whole black seeds slip

out the side of my mouth

new laughter buzzing about

my knees




To memory I pray a poem 

to meet my 

baby cousins and’nem

before the shame


before the too harsh scrubbing

and blistered skin, before callous

and the simple invasion of disgust


before the snickers and side long glances

before she learns herself the disquieting odor

of a bradford pear tree


let there be the panting breath

of the breeze, the dust-bearing bee sunk

into the sanctum of a bloom, 

the ecstatic shiver from root to branch.


Let there be truth

funky like how we grow

to like it  



Let there be a Mama

who ain’t afraid

to tell it

Ra Malika Imhotep is a black feminist writer + performance artist from West Atlanta. Currently pursuing a doctoral degree in African Diaspora Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Her work tends to the relationship between black femininity, vernacular culture, and the performance of labor in The Dirty South. 

bottom of page