The Magic Mirror Tempts Lily’s White Daughter (1951) / nicolette bethel

magic-mirror

You could pass……….say the mirror ……….fine comb slide  ……….
through your hair……….slide  through ……….your glory  ……….you could pass      ……….
and if sun don’t see your skin……….you  could ……….marry some white man    ……….
have little white babies    ……….if the sun don’t see ……….
your skin  ……….You the fairest of them all
……….
Fair is foul……….Ruth tell the mirror……….white right ain’t all it seem……….
I don’t want ……….no longhair glory……….I don’t want no whitebread man……….
I want Momma ……….rainbow babies……….and if the sun don’t see my skin……….
then my eye don’t see the sun ……….foul is fair……….she tell the mirror……….
take back your filthy air
……….
But they will take you……….say the mirror……….they will let you in they front door……….
you don’t need ……….no paper bag test……….you got whiteness on your side……….
and they will take you ……….in they parlour……….they will take you in they bedroom……….
they will seat you at they table ……….they will walk you down they aisle ……….
and you could pass say the mirror ……….fine comb ……….slide right through your hair ……….
why you don’t pass
……….
Ruth say I is  ……….a woman who don’t care ……….
about no hair……….no white skin save the Saviour ……….
and no white skin save Momma Lily   ……….death come knocking anyhow and……….
no fine comb save ……….my darling brother and when he bleed ……….
his blood run red just like ……….a black man bleeding  ……….and he dead ……….
just like a white man ……….dead and so my skin and hair don’t……….mean nothing ……….
and comb……….don’t resurrect the dead and skin ……….return to blind earth……….
just like blood roll  ……….to the ground……….
if the dirt don’t see no difference why should I
……….
And then Ruth break the magic mirror

•••

A version of “The Magic Mirror Tempts Lily’s White Daughter (1951)” was originally published in Mama Lily and the Dead (Poinciana Paper Press, 2010)

•••

Nicolette Bethel is a Bahamian playwright, poet, anthropologist and blogger and the founding editor of tongues of the ocean. Her chapbook Mama Lily and the Dead was published by Poinciana Paper Press in December 2010.

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