Fancywork

 

Picture her, the Black Patti—

A black soprano, a wunderkind,

Lovers like medallions, bossy.

In burgundy, studded maybe,

After the dog acts and acrobats,

Maybe in white gloves, she

Walks out, begins Faust or Martha.

Did they notice her back, the arrow

Of her voice, those hands, ringing?

Mama's little songbird until

Miss Lady began to lionize

Those notes, their brocade, her lungs,

Her breath, ornate and lingering

long after the wash. Then The Grand,

The Orpheum, men chewing their

Fat cigars. Someone will say The air

Was baroque. Their eyes, a gaudy

Mosaic, and her voice, a hurdle.

Even Garvey, general of no nation,

Starts tittering where he sits.

Nigger Heaven, and the applause,

Limp as some broken idiom.

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