Friday, May 30, 2014

Maya Angelou on Love

In tribute to American poet, novelist, dramatist, musician, memoirist, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, who died on Wednesday at the age of 76, three poems, two in celebration of black men, one about white women's attempts to claim "sisterhood" with black women:

To a Suitor

     If you are Black and for me,
press steady, as the weight
of night. And I will show
cascades of brilliance, astrally.

     If you are Black and constant,
descend importantly,
as ritual, and I will arch
a crescent moon, naturally.

To a Man
     My man is
Black Golden Amber
Warm mouths of Brandy Fine
Cautious sunlight on a patterned rug
Coughing laughter, rocked on a whorl of French tobacco
Graceful turns on woolen stilts
A cat's eye.
Souther. Plump and tender with navy-bean sullenness
And did I say "Tender"?
The gentleness
A big cat stalks through stubborn bush
And did I mention "Amber"?
The heatless fire consuming itself.
Again. Anew. Into ever neverlessness.
My man is Amber
Always into itself
New. Now New.
Still itself.

Family Affairs

     You let down, from arched
Over hand-cut stones of your
Cathedrals, seas of golden hair.

     While I, pulled by dusty braids,
Left furrows in the Sands of African beaches.

     Princes and commoners
Climbed over waves to reach
Your vaulted boudoirs,

     As the sun, capriciously,
Struck silver fire from waiting
Chains, where I was bound.

     My screams never reached
The rare tower where you
Lay, birthing masters for
My sons, and for my
Daughters, a swarm of
Unclean badgers, to consume
Their history.

      Tired now of pedestal existence
For fear of flying
And vertigo, you descend
And step lightly over My centuries of horror
And take my hand,

     Smiling, call me

     Sister, accept
That I must wait a
While. Allow an age
Ruts left on my
Beach in Africa.

 (All poems from The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou Random House, 1994)

Maya Angelou (Academy of Achievement)

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