Ode to Shea Butter

Angel Nafis

I have known you well along my bottom lip, corners of my mouth,
crown of my skull, base of my back, ass, heel of my foot, in between
my toes, beds of my nails, around the belly button. Capping my knees,
elbows, breasts, shoulders, rubbed deep into my afro. Every single day.
& night too. Before bed I sit up tired, ready to go wherever it is
we go when we close our eyes. But first you save me. I use you to
mold my kinks into twists, into black knuckles. Oh you save me
from morning afro disasters I know are waiting for me. A packed down
flat cake of dry black wool. Unmanageable. Unfuckwittable. Late for work
tryna to make it work. But with you I am on time. & wild like I wanna be
fluffy three dimensional lioness in wolf’s clothing. With you I gleam. I win
the contest folks say don’t exist. Don’t you see? You force love for me,
from me. You coax love like a sky coax smoke from a chimney. I am Black
& gleaming & even babies know it. Dogs know it. Grown women know.
& trees, & the whole ocean know. All of them look at me with a pebble
in their throats. & I shimmer a good song off my skin. The best Black song
off my skin. Oh look at me, walk the street knowing what daybreak knows.
Lookatmememememe. & look at you, shea butter! Never leaving me.
Like a film of rain along my palms. You stay for minutes/hours/whole days.
& I leave little greasy continents of you everywhere I touch.
& I could almost be embarrassed but I leave little shining ponds, man.
I leave lakes. Perfect mirrors, everywhere, everywhere I go.