A Colored Woman Cannot Sing
of metallic hydrogen, amethystor anemone, turtle shells besidean empty bed, or broken diadems.A colored woman cannot singof Hassidim, the salt-rimed stones of Antioch,how the Aegean tastes of sperm, and a sturgeonsqueezes black garnets from its rectum.A colored woman cannot sing of I-beamsor derailleurs, the impact of microwaveson Southern dialect, Froebel blocks,or the smell of milk on your mother's nipple.A colored woman cannot sing of tangerinejuice spilling on the ankle of a white girl,tangerine mist on a white ankle. A coloredwoman cannot sing of standing stones,why dark matter in the galactic halo mustby nonbaryonic, or even hum The Marseillaise.A colored woman cannot singof pilgrims casting garlands into the Ganges,one hundred red spiders dancing on a gray web,or Nanjing and seven heads bobbing in a greasy pool.A colored woman cannot singof minuets and manatees, the flutter of mothson an infant's tongue, nutmegs and milagros,or black tulips buried in a field of snow.
Copyright © 2019 by Janice N. Harrington
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Janice N. Harrington’s latest book of poetry is Primitive: The Art and Life of Horace H. Pippin. Earlier books include Even the Hollow My Body Made Is Gone and The Hands of Strangers: Poems from the Nursing Home. She curates a blog on poetic imagery: A Space for Image.
FIELD: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics was founded in 1969 as a periodical devoted to poetry that would combine fresh viewpoints, editorial discrimination, and an attention to the best work being produced in the United States and abroad, regardless of allegiance to schools or categories or reputations. Published twice annually, it provides a forum where poets, eminent and emerging, show each other and those who follow the course of the art what is innovative and most interesting.