Friday, July 29, 2005

"America" - Yasmin Ahmad


Iraq Basra girl
Originally uploaded by yasmin the storyteller.
"Like smelling salts
to the senses,
coffee
in an American breakfast.
American coffee aroma;
invisible demons
rising from dusty nuts
and glowing cinders.
Coffee,
like a sweaty African widow;
a frenzied tussle in bed,
leaving you with
scars
that can never go,
smells
you can never forget.

O America.
I have nothing but
praise
for your inadvertent
ways;
your lemming ambitions,
your earnestness
and your endless
speeches;
your humanitarian
inhumanities;
your refined
vulgarities;
your wisdoms
that are almost always
born
out of wedlock,
fathered
by ignorance.

You rape all things native,
erase all things grey,
until all that is left
is like coffee;
black
or white,
good
or bad.

O America.
The world dreams of being like you;
secretly covets
all that is yours,
just as you once coveted
all that was not.

O America.
Coated with stains of
coffees
from faraway lands.
Coffees that sailed
in little Mayflowers.
Coffees that were at first
lean,
were overfed,
became obese
and became
America.

Became
sidewalk cafes.
With large
Anglo-Saxon women
donning French hats
and Italian shoes,
sipping Colombian refills.
Their eyes widen
and their eye-shadow
creases.
Their smiles are wide
and their teeth are many.
They are
inspired,
as they always are,
with an idea,
a big idea,
a larger-than-life idea.

Suddenly,
a Puccini aria becomes
the soundtrack
to a Hollywood movie.
Suddenly,
Mozart’s divertimenti
are gracing
a Tupperware party,
with endless chatter
and rivers of coffee.

They say
a people is the child
of the environment.
As for me,
I don’t know,
I think you are
as you should be.
You are
America.

For certain
I sing my praises for you.
For certain
I raise my cup of
Starbuck
to you.
Perhaps because
I am not you.
Or from you.
Or with you.
Or black
and living among you.

But just the same,
God bless America.
Because if He doesn’t,
God help the world."