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 the GENDER issue / POETRY

ole higue.jpg

the ole higue goes hunting*

by Saida Agostini

legend holds that I am
ugly and stooped, covered in frightful

disdain. but rather I glory in my own

sight: naked black wrinkled flesh, breasts

low hanging ripe fruit, my
sex a shining damp shell. at nights while

you slumber, I go flying crowned
in blue fire above the mahaica,
my skin left sleeping in bed.
there are those who would
argue my midnight visits spur madness

report of women who cup machetes as

they would my breasts and do a violence

to their men. I say the taste of me

intoxicates, bewitches my beloveds
to cut what keeps them tethered
and sighing, toiling in heat for a
man that does little good. in truth
this way is no easier: boys
spread white salt and rice in
strict lines to bar me from my own skin

my own beloveds shy with fear
when they first see me
but then I reach out my hand, hold
them to my chest and sing the history
of old black women digging and crafting

this ancient earth into consciousness. I say 

this is yours, take it, a​nd they come

shuddering with power

*​The ole higue is a myth created by dutch enslavers in Guyana. A hunchbacked old woman, the ole higue was said to depart her skin at night and beguile young women into killing their families.

Saida Agostini is a queer afro-guyanese poet and activist. Her work is featured in Origins, the Black Ladies Brunch Collective's anthology, Not Without Our Laughter, the Baltimore Sun, pluck!, The Little Patuxent Review, and other publications. She has received support for her poetry from Cave Canem, the Blue Mountain Center and other institutions. 

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