Emancipation Queen

“Emancipation Queen” was a historically Black beauty pageant in Utah.


       It’s true
that beauty
can be a tool
dually wielded    
      robin’s egg
who would know
come from a red-
breasted bird    
      taffeta gown
named for what
the body made
its blue    
      but not the maker
or the blue
from which come
the robin    
      is that emancipation
to leave beauty behind     
     a Black girl      
     on a stage   
     inside the egg
of a robin    
     a Black girl who is
a robin
repeating the question


Driving at Night

For Laquan McDonald

I think it’s quails lining the road but it's fallen Birchwood.

What look like white clouds in a grassy basin, sprinklers.

I mistake the woman walking her retriever as a pair of fawns.

Could-be animals. Unexplained weather. Maybe they see us

that way. Knowing better, the closer they get. Not quite ready to let it go.

Black Lead in a Nancy Meyers Film

Aging, at all. I want that. And to fall
perhaps most honestly in love
beside the ocean, in a home I’ve paid
for by doing as I like: drinking good
wine, dusting sugar over a croissant, or
the stage play I’m writing myself into.
Aging Black woman in neutral summer
turtleneck. Known. And jogging. Lonesome
enough. Eating homemade lavender
ice cream, the moon blooming
through the kitchen window. The distant
sound of waves. Learning
French as a second language.
Votre pâte merveilleux, I smile back.
And then, just like that! Falling, cautiously,
for my busy, middle-aged lover,
who needs me, but has never truly seen me
until now. Our Black friends, celebrating
with hors d’oeuvres. Our Black children
growing older.