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Legacies

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her grandmother called her from the playground   
       “yes, ma’am”
       “i want chu to learn how to make rolls” said the old   
woman proudly
but the little girl didn’t want
to learn how because she knew
even if she couldn’t say it that
that would mean when the old one died she would be less   
dependent on her spirit so
she said
       “i don’t want to know how to make no rolls”
with her lips poked out
and the old woman wiped her hands on
her apron saying “lord
       these children”
and neither of them ever
said what they meant
and i guess nobody ever does

Nikki Giovanni, “Legacies” from My House. Copyright © 1972 by NikkiGiovanni. Used with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Source: The Collected Poems of Nikki Giovanni (2003)
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Legacies

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