heart large with acute ache,
scours fields for something of Kansas
that bears a likeness of her.
Gold garland of woven wheat,
rests atop head of tight black curls,
she bends to smell rich county soil,
brushes ground with Cupid’s bow mouth—
lips lush in a way that makes earth feel blessed.
She creeps up near a bison herd,
smiles at their wooly thick coats
the same deep brown as her skin,
surprises them to scatter with cries
“Hey there, divinely dark, like me!”
Cottonwood shade sends invitation
to nap lulled by honeybee buzz,
she dreams of adversity yet to happen,
of places she’ll arrive just shy of stars,
of honorable mentions that bear her name,
of foreshadowed failures that startle her awake.
She plans poems about eating a stew
to put meat on her Midwest bones,
broth rendered thick
with Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes
seasoned rich with Gordon Parks, Aaron Douglas,
a hearty meal that leaves her sated
and transformed uppity enough
to demand her home town be
more than good place to grow potatoes—
be good place to grow black girls too.
~ Annette Hope Billings
Annette Hope Billings is an poet/actress/playwright from Topeka, KS, who has written two collections of poetry. In 2015, she stepped away from four decades of nursing to writing full-time and explore where her creative path was leading her. Her most recent collection of poetry, A Net Full of Hope, was published last year and has been well-received, garnering her a readers’ proposed title of “Maya of the Midwest.” For more info about her book:tinyurl.com/anfohbook To view videos of her work: tinyurl.com/anfohvideos To follow her on FaceBook: Facebook.com/anetfullofhope.
Photo of Annette by Stephan Anderson-Story