Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The Condoleezza Suite [Excerpt]

Concerto no. 7: Condoleezza {working out} at the Watergate

Condoleezza rises at four, 
stepping on the treadmill. 

Her long fingers brace the two slim handles
of accommodating steel. 

She steadies her sleepy legs for the long day ahead. 
She doesn't get very far. 

Her knees buckle wanting back 
last night's dream. 

                                 [dream #9]

She is fifteen and leaning forward from the bench, 
playing Mozart's piano concerto in D minor, alone, 
before the gawking, disbelieving, applauding crowd. 

                                 not [dream #2]

She is nine, and not in the church that explodes into dust, 
the heart pine floor giving way beneath her friend Denise, 
rocketing her up into the air like a jack-in-the-box
of a Black girl, wrapped in a Dixie cross.

She ups the speed on the treadmill, remembering, 
she has to be three times as good. 

Don't mix up your dreams Condi. 

She runs faster, back to the right, finally hitting her stride. 
Mozart returns to her side. 

She is fifteen again, all smiles, and relocated
to the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, 

where she and the Steinway
are the only Black people in the room.

Credit


From Head Off & Split by Nikky Finney. Copyright © 2011 by Nikky Finney. Reprinted with permission from TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern. All rights reserved.

Author


Nikky Finney

In addition to the National Book Award, Finney has received a PEN American Open Book Award and the Benjamin Franklin Award for Poetry

Date Published: 2011-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/condoleezza-suite-excerpt