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127| Dark Ladies at the Magazine Stand

Jennifer Perrine


We count the cover of Vanity Fair,
surprised to find among Hollywood names
half a dozen black actors. In the air:
slaves, segregation, unarmed men shot, shames
that persist through consciousness and power,
natural hair, raised fists. Every dark face
on this foldout sends sharp hope to jab our
twisted notions of who merits this grace,
glitzy display of tux and gown. Each black
suit and shimmering dress conceals a seam:
stitched suffering, well-tailored want and lack
gleam. Even as we celebrate this team
        whose tales sing we have overcome our woe,
        still our tongues wonder when it shall be so.

Jennifer Perrine is the author of The Body Is No Machine (New Issues, 2007), winner of the 2008 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Poetry, and In the Human Zoo (University of Utah Press, 2011), recipient of the 2010 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize. Perrine teaches in the English department and directs the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

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