Banana Dance/Nudes (Ain’t I a Woman? Excerpts)

Nicole Goodwin

Banana Dance
-Dedicated to Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety” for her Mammie Sphinx and Josephine Baker

The most defiant thing that can be done in life
Isn’t breaking the rules.

It’s the moment you care enough,
Not to care about them at all whatsoever.

I remember two things: that oppression
Where’s a human mask

And that beauty is an attachment
To people, places and things other

Than myself.
When Ms. Baker bore her breasts

In dance and song,
One must remember that she was
Facing down an Army

Droves and droves of those
Who said black and beautiful
Will never mix.

Both her and Mammie Sphinx
Bum upward high in the air,
An offering to given by God

Frightens most even until this
Day. As something, unholy…
As the earth is round.

Or even still,
Property of man.
Not a gift, oh no!

The joke is when
And where they cannot
Even utter can that have
A taste of such provocative

If I were Sarah Bartmann,
I’d want to take revenge on the western world
By going nude every chance I got and using
The curves of my body as a muse.
Forcing others to look upon their atrocity
Their hatred for the black form—while
I smile and declare to myself “Go prosper,
Live long and well!”

I am not sorry for the sake of it.
The cries of the needy were so unheeded
So desperate.
Does that make me mad to wish to ease
Their pain?
With the gentle, soft tones of my flesh?
You say whore as if it were the ailment—
Forgetting that love making at its best served
As a cured for those wounds that time ignored.

I lay spread for a lover once.
So much so he was intimidated.
How sad how his manhood could not
Rise to sample my nectar.
My breasts, gates to a temple of prayer

Banana Dance/Nudes (Ain’t I a Woman? Excerpts)