~ * ~
The face, without question, her face. Small, puckish, beautiful—small sparkling eyes of new genius, love, brown like Africa. In her pupils his reflection; himself within a sphere, they created, co-joined and …perfect. A chocolate doll. Milk awaits, sugar succumbs. Tiny hands, palms outstretched, gesturing—the faintest of life-lines melting into warm rays of magnolia sun. The smell of her. The smell of her. The smell of them both together like warm rich cloying honey dripping off rose petals and jasmine cake- my loves, my loves. She has a Polaroid. Here Daddy. Thank You Precious. She took it herself, John—Africa’s voice from beyond the Soul Kitchen. She has a dozen to show you. They are all of people you’ve butchered and left as shadows. Here’s one of a Christmas tree, Daddy— because it wasn’t all bad. How can an infant speak so? Fresh cornbread anyone? Africa stands holding a pan of fresh steaming ocher, the bottom of the pan red-hot, supporting the treat without burning her hands. I’m not hungry, Affie…I’m starving… but nothing can go down my throat because I reckon…all… I’ll… do is… choke. Oh John, she says —Choking to survive is the story of our lives. Africa smiles, lifts the pan of cornbread above her shoulder with one hand. Baa-Baa black sheep sings half baby whitebread— Speak. John. Daddy…with straight hair. Reckon. You. Should. Have. Fought. Harder. John. In a blaze blue white star flash she the Baby-Mama smashes the pan of hot southern confection against his face. HARD. So HARD. HARDER than any one pan could impossibly smash. Pain. And good-bye.