(Who Was Christened Lucy Jane)
She danced, near nude, to tom-tom beat,
With swaying arms and flying feet,
’Mid swirling spangles, gauze and lace,
Her all was dancing—save her face.
A conscience, dumb to brooding fears,
Companioned hearing deaf to cheers;
A body, marshaled by the will,
Kept dancing while a heart stood still:
And eyes obsessed with vacant stare,
Looked over heads to empty air,
As though they sought to find therein
Redemption for a maiden sin.
’Twas thus, amid force driven grace,
We found the lost look on her face;
And then, to us, did it occur
That, though we saw—we saw not her.
From The Book of American Negro Poetry (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922), edited by James Weldon Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.