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Southern Spaces
A journal about real and imagined spaces and places of the US South and their global connections


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