Published on Academy of American Poets (

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.


Copyright © 2022 by Rio Cortez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 22, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I enjoy rewatching films that Nancy Meyers has written and directed: the beautiful interior designs, the dream jobs, the tiny refinements and subtle details of wealth, the refreshingly middle-aged romantic protagonists. I wanted to imagine what it might look like if one of those protagonists were a Black woman. We rarely see Black women in film depicted in a state of aging. Through irony, and the delicious process of rewriting Black women into rooms of popular culture that have been closed to them, this sonnet also explores questions of Black motherhood, comfort, and the potential of a life uninterrupted.”
—Rio Cortez


Rio Cortez

Rio Cortez is the author of the author of Golden Ax (Penguin, 2022); I Have Learned to Define a Field as a Space Between Mountains (Jai Alai Books, 2015); and The ABCs of Black History (Workman, 2020). Born and raised in Salt Lake City, she now lives, writes, and works in Harlem at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Date Published: 2022-03-22

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