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Cinematic Yearnings

Sundays, my mother and I watched movies on PBS. Jezebel, Sabrina, In the Good Old Summertime Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Judy Garland. I practiced their detached look of desire In bathroom mirrors, when no one was looking. I learned to smear lipstick across my face, As if readying myself for a ball, And dot the beauty mole where my lips creased upward, conjuring Marilyn. Why didn’t anyone in the movies look like me? The darkest grays were servants mumbling “Yes’um, Ma’am” or “No, Sir.” No blonde hair or come-hither lashes. Maybe Nat was right: “Madison Avenue is Afraid of the Dark.” Recently, I’ve watched Shirley tap in movies For a few minutes, I did wish I was her, with my curls Bouncing in the air, my dress a frilled tower - That is, until her young voice cracked, “Mr. Bones, Mr. Bones.” The musicians walked out in blackface and I remembered.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2007




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