Poem 50 ± July 24, 2015

Cheryl Clarke
In this hostile corridor

A quickening
nostalgia suffuses
me, this late evening

fin de siecle
two endanger-
ed sites.

The marvelous
have been blight-
ed by a blood-bourne

scourge. Flam-
boyantly frail, pretty
still marvelous you
nourish our failing

As I face
your soliticitous-
ness over the counter
of this nasty
KFC and am dazzled by
your articulated brows
the discrete texture
of your facial skin
and buffed, cultivated nails

you recognize
me     too—
by my precise haircut

Cheryl ClarkeCheryl Clarke is the author of the poetry collections Narratives: poems in the tradition of black women (Sister Books, Kitchen Table, Women of Color Press, 1982), Living as a Lesbian (Firebrand Books, 1986; reprinted by A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2014 ), Humid Pitch (Firebrand Books, 1989), Experimental Love (Firebrand Books, 1993); the critical study, After Mecca: Women Poets and the Black Arts Movement (Rutgers Press, 2005); and The Days of Good Looks: Prose and Poetry 1980-2005 (Carroll and Graf, 2006). A new poetry collections, By My Precise Haircut, is forthcoming from Word Works Press in 2016. Cheryl retired from Rutgers University in 2013 after 41 years at the New Brunswick campus. With her partner Barbara J. Balliet, she is co-owner of Blenheim Hill Books in Hobart, the Book Village of the Catskills. She is an organizer of the annual Festival of Women Writers in Hobart, N.Y.

Photo by Ann E. Chapman

This poem is part of a longer piece entitled “The Days of Good Looks” from The Days of Good Looks: Prose and Poetry 1980-2005.