An interdisciplinary journal about regions, places, and cultures of the US South and their global connections
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  • Six Yellow Stanzas


    Didn't know what to do
    at the Boule Ball,
    so I put on a Mardi Gras mask
    of a smile and watched
    those Creoles second-line,
    light yellow faces, bright
    white kerchiefs waving
    back and forth
    made languid light.


    I lay back
    in the bucket seat,
    for the first time
    let a yellow boy
    kiss me and kiss me and kiss me,
    talk that talk.


    I don't know how
    to talk that talk.
    I am visiting friends
    of a family friend.
    These Creole ways
    are something I
    have never seen
    before or since.
    Yellow boys squire me
    to glittering clubs
    where I am the coal
    in the Christmas stocking.
    Curious, curious
    yellow me. I can't
    tell who among
    these creamy
    freesia women -
    they all are.
    They let some men
    be dark, like the one
    they call Dark Gable,
    who could talk
    that talk the best.
    The club is dark.
    Some men are dark.
    The women shine
    and glitter. Me.


    my yellow moon -
    pie face, yellow baby
    screaming in the middle of the bed.
    You could pass for Spanish,
    a man says, as a compliment.
    You a high-yella gal, and I like that,
    says a suitor. Yellow!

    I dreamed I had a yellow baby.
    In the dream I didn't feed it.
    It dried flat on the blacktop
    like an old squashed frog.
    I tried to revive it with lemonade
    by the dropperful,
    but that was the end
    of my yellow dream baby.


    My thigh next to your thigh.
    Your black thigh
    (your dark brown thigh)
    next to my black thigh
    (which is "yellow"
    and brown, and black.)
    Sunless flesh or sunshine flesh.
    I startle myself
    with my yellowness
    next to your black
    but say none of this,
    and lick your skin 'til yellow-
    black sparks fly,
    a hive of bumblebees
    which hum at your body
    and do not sting.


    Egg yolk, crocus, buttercup, butter,
    dandelion, sunflower, sunbeam, sun,
    chicken fat, legal pads, bumble-bee stripes,
    a bowl full of lemons, grapefruit peel,
    iris hearts, pollen, the Coleman's mustard can,
    the carpets and sheets in my childhood bedroom:
    things that are yellow and yellow alone.


    Published in Body of Life (Chicago: Tia Chucha Press, 1996).

    Published: 10 December 2009
    © 2009 Elizabeth Alexander and Southern Spaces