i appreciate the sassy people in life.
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Step back now and look again at the femur.
Turn the bone upright and it is a glyph,
a perfect representation of the number one.
The research team names her part-skeleton
More shovels arrive in the morning.
The next day, workers dance to that Beatles’
song, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,
playing on the tape recorder.
They drink a bottle of shiraz
and christen her Lucy.
I raise a glass of tej over the Hadar site and sniff
forest honey that grand-mother mixed
with gesho leaves to make wine.
This reminds me of grandmother.
Grave-soil and termites fell from her mouth:
Don’t ask me again about where we come from.
Because her body was so covered in skin, hard as flint,
she sometimes called herself Stone-Dress.
I begged her not to leave the village.
Grandmother wore black obsidian,
even though the desert cracked beneath her feet.
The belt was carved from the upper delta
and an emerald stream ran down her back.
When she carried a bag of chicken bones,
she clapped and chanted sangoma, sangoma, sangoma.
Grand-mother placed the bones on a shrine
but could not read what they said.
Come closer and see several hundred fragments
of ourselves scattered across the Afar region.
They say that the number one is linked
to a noble number, the whole which is made
of many parts: ulna, jaw and teeth.
It is the number of the first mother.