Published on Academy of American Poets (


Pleasure is black.

I no longer imagine

        where my body
        stops or begins.

Skin transparent.
Face speckled

by the spit
of several centuries.

All the borders stare at the same fires.

Oh Mamere,

        I'm sorry.

Here I am.


Copyright © 2018 by Robin Coste Lewis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

"I'm not sure where this poem came from, honestly. Not all sources are known. My job is to follow Her lead. I do know I'm trying to find a new language, or I should say a new English—one that both acknowledges the historical ruin inherent in English, but—because of that ruin—is also a vast open space. I like the ashes. I'm always trying to talk about blackness from the inside. I'm not interested in ‘race’ at all. Race is a fetish, and not a very compelling one. I am, however, madly in love with my culture. In this poem, and others, I'm trying to find a way to make English bow to that love."
—Robin Coste Lewis


Robin Coste Lewis

Robin Coste Lewis is the author of Voyage of the Sable Venus (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), winner of the National Book Award in poetry.

Date Published: 2018-02-06

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