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Richard Ntiru is an African poet—from Uganda. His poem, MiniSkirt, is funny, but also pretty aggressively sexual.
Mini-skirts, as is well known are short. They show off a girls’ legs, but they don’t let you see everything. According to the poem, that’s half the joy:
To visualize what you can't see:
That's the paradoxical pleasure of the mind.
Ntiru makes this point twice, also noting how sad it is when he finally does get to see what’s underneath.
In the afterbirth of seeing,
Death of imagination
After he sees what’s there the speaker of the poem can no longer dream about it. Yet, he seems to warn himself that it’s only “dallying on the brink of reality” not to pursue the real sight further. “Dallying” a word with a negative connotation means moving along slowly.
It seems, however, that the persona doesn’t dally, he makes it to the summit—and presumably has sex with the girl in the mini-skirt. The result, we’re told, is “cliché” –probably a child and marriage.
The last lines of the poem seem to reflect on this ending. They’re ambivalent—note the question mark at the end of the poem.
Ntiru speaks of the “synthetic gauze” making the mini-skirt sound lovely but also a bit cheap. It’s “the fertility lines” that are beautiful.
But why does the gauze have to atone?
Note, there’s no such term “fertility lines” in standard English but the image of a birth is conjured. If you imagine the “fertility lines” are stretch marks—then the word beautiful seems sarcastic. If you imagine the “fertility lines” as genetic lines then there’s a sadness about a child being birthed into a real world that isn’t perhaps as beautiful as the skirt made it out to be.
Either way, there’s a question about the sadness about what the fantasy’s prompted to become real. Again, Ntiru doesn’t decide that question completely. The question mark at the end of the poem leaves the reader to say whether the miniskirt ought to atone.
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