Wednesday, April 12, 2006

"Sweet Sugar On Brown Dresses" (7-Minute NaPoWriMo Poem for 4/10)

Sweet Sugar On Brown Dresses

Memphis Minnie stole the show
twangin' and wailing on her electric guitar,
making the trains sing through the blood of the dancers,
their sewing machines stitching brown uniforms into souls
through their steps, the dance taking the hand of sorrow
for a spin. She would plan the great escape, Sojourner
searchin' for her truth -- all gussied up and settling
for a six-string happiness. Next train to Clarksville.
It's a long walk home. I been there: taxi ride crosstown
with the Pakistani driver who was born there. "Sure,"
he said, "the paper just ran a big spread." Her stance,
her grinning gold, the accents of her indigenous brows
even near death, a face and the paralyzed hands folded
on the porch in Memphis. Another photograph. Another kind
of home, far from the stockyards, the killing pens, the Sundown
Laws. It was not that "my man done left me," that pleading
through the night, it was that "I hate to see the evening sun
go down" when The Law had the right to arrest you, you,
a Negress, unaccompanied," rape you, beat you, sterilize you,
and abort your child when the sun go down....


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