A simple piece of cloth by Mahasin D. Shamsid-Deen

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These poems are part of a special section of the Mid-Atlantic Review, Celebrating Black History, and selected by editors Khadijah Ali-Coleman, Carolivia Herron, and Rebecca Bishophall. To learn more about this series read a blog post on the Day Eight website here.

A simple piece of cloth

by Mahasin D. Shamsid-Deen

On a simple piece of cloth
strong as history
unconscionable injustice weaved pain

Stiff muslin dyed a deep red (1)
align dirt pathways
proclaimed the sale of human flesh

strong black cotton nylon on a pole (2)
stark white lettering
condemned murder of a man hung

seven stars crisscrossed on red (3)
willful in audacity
glorifies America’s shame upon a people

a past fused in a horror imposed
offer tenuous mend
besides what only the Deity can provide

forehead to floor in supplication
sincere prayer murmured
swaddles the soul in peace

Mahasin D. Shamsid-Deen is an author, poet and published playwright with plays staged, and/or read in the US, Europe, and the Middle East. Her play “One God” was translated into Arabic, Spanish and Malay; filmed for a local PBS station and presented in private audience to the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. Her plays have been presented at the Richmond Acts of Faith Festival for several years. Her 10-minute play Infinite Awareness of the Present won the 2017 Rockford New play Festival. Her play “Carrying the Load, the life and times of Sister Clara Muhammad” was part of the Richmond Acts of Faith Festival and was performed before an overflowing crowd at the Anacostia Playhouse for the American Islamic Heritage Museum in Washington, DC. Her play “African Musk on my Forehead Unwrapping my pink shroud” an examination of older African American women and their experiences, won awards from theater companies in Illinois and Richmond, Virginia. Mahasin is a retired High School Language Arts and ESL teacher and retired college writing tutor. She has been a long time member of the International Centre of Women Playwrights and African Women Playwrights. Besides playwriting she has written newspaper articles, magazine articles, books and is a staff writer for Sound Vision and MNTV. Her article in the Journal of Islamic History and Culture featured a detailed look at the history of mosque development in the United States in the African American community.

1 Slave auction flag: https://www.virginiamemory.com/online-exhibitions/exhibits/show/to-be-sold/item/399
2 NAACP “A man was lynched yesterday”: https://naacp.org/find-resources/history-explained/history-lynching-
america#:~:text=Among%20the%20campaign’s%20other%20efforts,was%20damaging%20the%20South’s%20economic
3 Confederate flag>/p>

The featured image in this post is: “Raf Simons black cotton cape for a man, Autumn-Winter 1999-2000 02.jpg”, Staff photographer, Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, Creative Commons, via Wikimedia Commons

Editor
Editorhttp://www.dayeight.org
Bourgeon’s mission, through our online publication and community initiatives, is twofold: to increase participation in the arts and to improve access to the arts. Bourgeon is a project of the not-for-profit Day Eight.
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