Filene's department store
near nineteen-fifty-three:
An Aunt Jemima floor
display. Red bandanna,
Apron holding white rolls
of black fat fast against
the bubbling pancakes, bowls
and bowls of pale batter.
This is what Donna sees,
across the "Cookwares" floor,
and hears "Donnessa?" Please,
This can not be my aunt.
Father's long-gone sister,
nineteen-fifty-three. "Girl?"
Had they lost her, missed her?
This is not the question.
This must not be my aunt.
Jemima? Pays the rent.
Family mirrors haunt
their own reflections.
Ladders. Sisters. Nieces.
As soon as a live Jemima
as a buck-eyed rhesus
monkey. Girl? Answer me.
 
From The Venus Hottentot by Elizabeth Alexander. Copyright © 2004 by Elizabeth Alexander. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Blues by Elizabeth Alexander
I am lazy, the laziest
Haircut by Elizabeth Alexander
I get off the IRT in front of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture after riding an early
Praise Song for the Day by Elizabeth Alexander
Each day we go about our business


Further Reading

Poems about Ancestors
Ancestors
by Cesare Pavese
Arabic
by Naomi Shihab Nye
At the Public Market Museum: Charleston, South Carolina
by Jane Kenyon
Deer Dancer
by Joy Harjo
How I Got That Name
by Marilyn Chin
How Palestinians Keep Warm
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Many Asked Me Not to Forget Them
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Nunaqtigiit
(people related through common possession of territory)

by Joan Kane
On the Gallows Once
by Kofi Awoonor
On this Very Street in Belgrade
by Charles Simic
Passing
by Carl Phillips
Post-Dissertation-Intervention (i.)
by Ronaldo Wilson
Prayer for My Unborn Niece or Nephew
by Ross Gay
Snow
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Teach me I am forgotten by the dead
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart
by Jack Gilbert
The Multitude
by Ellen Hinsey
What I Am
by Terrance Hayes
Poems About Daughters
A Little Tooth
by Thomas Lux
A Newborn Girl at Passover
by Nan Cohen
A Prayer for my Daughter
by W. B. Yeats
Achill
by Derek Mahon
Daughters in Poetry
by Eavan Boland
Daughters, 1900
by Marilyn Nelson
For a Daughter Who Leaves
by Janice Mirikitani
Heart's Needle
by W. D. Snodgrass
Home After Three Months Away
by Robert Lowell
Interstate Highway
by James Applewhite
Morning Song
by Sylvia Plath
My Daughter All Yourn
by Farid Matuk
My Daughter Among the Names
by Farid Matuk
Poems about Daughters
Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah
by Patricia Smith
The Bistro Styx
by Rita Dove
The Pomegranate
by Eavan Boland
The Writer
by Richard Wilbur
Today A Rainstorm Caught Me
by Matt Hart
Waiting for Rain
by Ellen Bass