A lullaby my grandmother never told me.


     Written by Mamadou Yattassaye 
     Illustrated by Shayma Al-shiri 

     Est. Reading Time: 1 min 

I pictured it all just like this;
You scooped me up heavenly
and nested me in Bamako’s cradle
          to caress my young kinks near the Bakoy’s flow.

The cradle had a petite door I fiddled with. You dangled
with its’ key and warned me: never dance with the world without
a lifejacket. And, gently, you open locks and release me. And we would
         tread slowly now into the x and y-axis

of the Sankarani, the Bani.
ebbs of flow you trace out, cadencing
it with seams on the palms of your crust coated feet;
        Our trails are tapped with copper ivory and poor woman’s sweat.

We collected ourselves near the Bani shore’s reservoir and
for lunch, I gave you the Barhi dates I harvested
in the garden seeded inside
         myself; so hesitant the way you nibbled at foods. You say

Baby, it’s lacking Himalayan salt and Berbere spice.
Did your mother ever tell you must season your foundation
for black flavor to rise? Look at this shore, for example. Allah
         couldn’t manifest this without peppering the shore with sand. Words to

which I sulk into. My visage’s gaze averts to rays of sun, hoping beams
would punish my forehead for not seasoning my soil. And yet, you, you still savor the dates
        and embrace me. I watch your almond eyes twinkle as you tell me to
        stop wearing my culture like an extra-large shirt.

         We chuckled at that image until the dew of night came
                     it felt like. We chuckled for centuries even.



Published August 31, 2020
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Author’s Bio
Mamadou. is an 20 year old poet, songwriter and artist from Harlem, New York. Mamadou. is a first generation Malian-American, with both of his parents originally immigrating from Bamako, Mali to the United States in the late 90s. Mamadou. started writing poetry in 7th grade after one of his mentors, Mr. Raysor, introduced the power of one’s words in his 7th grade English class. That love for writing eventually evolved into a love of written poetry, spoken word, Hip Hop and R&B music, forms of art Mamadou continued to cultivate ever since.

Mamadou. draws inspiration from Saba, Mick Jenkins, Brent Faiyaz, Noname, Sekouba Bambino, and Salif Keita. His creative work captures themes of Black men grappling with emotional vulnerability, coming of age, spirituality, faith, unpacking the mundane, telling the stories coming from disenfranchised communities, and the first generation experience.
︎ @mamadouofficial  ︎ @mamadouofficia1
︎ mamadouofficial.com

Artist’s Bio
Shayma Al-shiri
As a Black and Middle Eastern Muslim immigrant woman who lives in today’s America, Shayma uses art to challenge stereotypes that often get pushed on her. Her work shows the vulnerability one faces during growth through soft color palettes and imperfect lines, giving it a homemade feel. Often centered around or inspired by religion and the reassurance it can provide during times of difficulty, Shayma’s art is directly tied to her faith.
︎ @shaymaalshiri  


︎Philadelphia, PA
Plantin Magazine ©2020