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Sweetgrass Baskets Come back home.

Sweetgrass Baskets
Come back home

 Mrs. Rosalee lives a long lineage of African artistry
 along the shimmering coastline of South Carolina
 aqua-blue Atlantic waves splash a monotonous refrain;
 her smooth dark hands break bulrush and crop sweetgrass
 like a well-oiled machine
 like the lapping vibration essence, she endures
 slowly drifting she is white foam breaking
 against shifting sandy shores of
 Mt. Pleasant where she was born
 half a century ago.

 Mrs. Rosalee's mama, seagrass basket weaver
 sewed complex palmetto leaf patterns
 her father and MaRose before her
 shared mixed variations
 coiling rhythms of Sierra Leone
 passed down through
 metal stitching tools called bones
 nimble fingers plucked bones
 twirling through blades of grass
 fashioning baskets for roadside stands:
 for the wheat and potatoes
 for crawfish and tomatoes
 for the corn and cotton
 each ancestor, in passing, bequeathed weaving tools:
 flattened nails or silver spoon handles
 worn smooth by long hours.

 Mrs. Rosalee talks to her grandchildren
 about the old days when they keep still
 they sew with tinted green
 or beige strands pinched and pulled between
 brown fingers plucking silver handles
 weaving empty flower pots
 and place mats, mixing in long leaf pine needles
 slithers of green upon brown strands,
 strips symmetrically coiled into identical braids;
 fanner baskets for the rice so when
 children are grown they'll understand
 and without pause winnow the chaff.

 In the 30s, a white man propelled Highway 17 sales
 North Charleston with roadside basket stands...
 Now they say "De Internet is de hot ticket!
 sweetgrass done gone international,
 Gullah too, you know, sailed from West Africa
 then back home again on the world market
 at prices you wouldn't believe."

 "Shut yo' mouf!"

Felton Eaddy, author of Bending Over To Pick Up a Snake, is a poet, vocalist, literary artist and an instructor at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta. He earned a M.A. in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University.
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Author:Eaddy, Felton
Publication:Journal of Pan African Studies
Article Type:Poem
Date:Dec 1, 2010
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