Wednesday, October 23, 2013


In the grocery store, an African woman
on her cellphone, spoke in a language 
I'd never heard before, telling her husband 
what he needed was purple. She kept saying Purple! 
Purple! in English, waving her arms in supplication.
There was no word for purple in his language or hers.
We searched for similes between tongues, 
the names of flowers, grapes, eggplant, sunset. 
Nothing conveyed. I showed her my amethyst ring. 
She grabbed my hand, said she loved purple, 
her daughter's birthday was in February, was mine? 
The only stone in my country are diamonds.
Blood diamonds, she said. Like the movie. You know?
That was about my tribe, my people, I had to leave
my poor country—Sierra Leone. You know the war?
The war it changed everything. It brought me here.
Purple, I don't know how to tell him, she said. 
Her eyes held an adamantine spark of hope.


Published in Bay Area Generations 15, Nov. 24, 2014

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