By Allie McKinney
It is by the words of her native tongue — thick as the millet she pounds, firm as the roots of the tree that shades her — that I rise,
Piercing the virgin morning air it rouses the sheep and calls the rooster to begin the day,
It is what breathed life into the sky, blew clouds into existence, formed Neem trees and produced children to rest under them,
Hers is the sticky heat of the sun, the sweet bissap that dribbles down the chin, the ticki ticki tak, ticki tak of the djembe,
All of this, teranga, the heartbeat of Senegal, she balances, carries, effortlessly atop her brightly wrapped head, her bouboutrailing behind her as she walks.