Of Women and Spirit © Kamaria Muntu

Of Women and Spirit
For Julie Dash, Inspired by the Film Daughters of the Dust
By Kamaria Muntu

Oshun Metamorphosis by Hochi Asiatico

Dare to sketch Gullah scapes

to wade uncharted water where no flotilla ventures

Let Chango lay the light of his fire on this water

until it glistens like spinster crystal

Go deep into the greenness

into the patois of snails, frogs, sea turtles and crabs

Inherit the swamp hip and okra stomp

Glide the glades of Damballah chants


“Oshun” Mixed Media by Khuumba Ama

lay your camera on the women

Pride them with the beholding eyes of Sunday suitors

Arrest a medicine wheel of color godspells

A cotillion of gumbo spice

their hair

their skin

their walk of waves

Veiled Osun golding the salty air

a delt vamp

Impel the mystique of clouds rising like cream

above the gelatin ocean

Implore the dewy nipples of Yemaya

and Elegba’s smiling guile

Spy the children dancing their lyric in sand

Secret ceremonies with flying fish

Witness prodigal gulls wailing their mercies

across azure sky fields

As Oya’s lightning bolt strikes the fever of crossing

We gather the dust of our essence

in our hands

and import our pasts in glass jars

with no seals


Kamaria Muntu ©  1996 . First published 1998 in Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of the African-American Literary Tradition. 

6 thoughts on “Of Women and Spirit © Kamaria Muntu

  1. Thanks Margie, I am both heartened and saddened by this comment. Often it is difficult to write from a deep Black woman consciousness in a world where more “popular” sounds win the day. Career wise I’m learning that we all have to be ambidextrous, yet I like the place I was in when I wrote that poem. It continues to represent the essence of who and what I am. This is why Coal is so necessary and must be supported – as a matter of fact that is true for all alternative expressions as you know from the work you’re engaged in. We most assuredly need venues that allow for authentic voicing in opposition to “writing the agenda.” We cannot afford to lose the richness of sound that is the heart of organic culture,that is nothing short of prayer. KM

  2. Thank you for that perspective. I was not familiar with the climate of the web in
    terms of bloggers 10 years ago, but without being too essentialist, I think this may have something to do with some of them becoming famous. It would seem that fame and collectivism are incompatible with how present day society is constructed. This doesn’t have to be the case of course, but the whole thing of exceptionalism has people vying to be worshiped as opposed to interacting with other humans on equal footing.There is no shortage of commentary on celebrity sites. We are by the way intrigued and enriched by your site as well, yet if intellectual passion does not bring with it the paparazzi mapping one’s every step, many folks just don’t think its worthwhile. Forgive the nihilism, one of those days, Thanks again for the kind words and keep making us think. Respect and admiration, KM .

  3. This poem moves thru the ages…it has a feeling of liberation as the Orisha breathe and take a snapshot of what is real to mix and fuse with the surreal “essence” of woman’s spirit. thank you for sharing this poem…it reminds me of my power…our power as women. Thanks Kamaria

  4. I understand. What’s difficult is the anonymity of the web seems more and more to preclude interaction and validation. Ten years ago it seemed the community was much more open and active. I’m not sure if there is just so much information and creative talent, or if it is just laziness that keeps people from acknowledging another’s existence. These blogs have even over the years grown in size and numbers of participants, yet the interaction has grown smaller and smaller till even the likes etc. come rarely.

    When something strikes a cord in me I do my best to affirm this and recognize it. Your site is one that empowers us. And, yes, we all need acknowledgment and validation, a sense of touch and interaction that extends the hand of sociality even if figuratively. Remember that ultimately what matters is that this is your being confronting the vibrancy of the others who may not acknowledge but still may need what you are as you are… keep the duende moving…

  5. Thank you so much Noir-Realism. When someone takes the time to think seriously about your work, it validates, affirms – gets you through the dark obscure days. J.D. Salinger said people never notice anything … guess that’s not always true.

  6. empowering! one feels, not sees the power… it moves me…

    The final lines gather the fullness of this ancient herstory in the subtle elegance of ritual that binds and unbinds that essence that cannot be sealed nor forgotten:

    We gather the dust of our essence

    in our hands

    and import our pasts in glass jars

    with no seals

Add to the discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s