NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 18 Issue 3 - Fall 2018 - Page 34

Cervix Aria When the stylist backstage has given me white make-up — not the greenish-pink gray of my skin, but a bone-chalk ivory — and black eyebrows, I looked in the mirror and I thought, I see a dead white person. And I don’t want to wear blusher, or sunburn — having been the homely child of a beautiful mother, I want to be featureless, a spirit whose face somehow reflects the face facing her. I want to look harmless! The smart, shy, pale girl in our class — the “milktoast” white man abducted her, and r. and m. her, and in the hills, buried her. Her mother, and father, and younger sister lived in the bright light of our eyes, flashbulbs, horror, for months, years, then the killer was fried to death in a chair like someone shut in the hinged, bronze hollow bull Heliogabalus wheeled over the coals of a fire. If I had to see my face while I am writing this, I would not write it. When I was a child, I was encouraged to speak from behind a tree as if I were the tree, or speak as if up from out of the ground, or, as a white adult, to speak out from within a white adult — how easy that has made my life is almost invisible to me. We knew about it from a young age. It was, in a sense, ordinary. When I held a snapdragon gently by its jaws and squeezed, so they opened, it was as if the volt at the hinge of the maw of the blossom leaped open at the same instant as the glug! at the core of my body. I had no idea it was the cervix swallowing, practising for when it would take in fresh seed to speed to its queen, up the corridor, in the dark in a girl grown up. Sometimes I wore, on my flat, ridged chest, over the thin skin and the lattice-work of my xylophonic ribs, a smocked dress — smock from *(s)meugh, “slippery, to slip, to slip on > see: smuggle, meek, akin to Latin mucus.” I forget how the body first appeared on earth, was it in drifts, like a cloud of milkweed seed, then flesh, which longed to make more of itself, and without knowing how, was able to. We almost knew this, at five, four, three — when we saw the truth of beauty, our body, abashed, gulped. White Woman in White Make-Up