The Christmas Soiree and the Missing Object of African Art

T
The landlady tendered me notice today—me
after twenty-one years treading these upper floors.
Her reason? With folks so flocking this waterway-to-be
no one couple needs seven rooms; and then, too,

there are neighbors who think she is housing the hub
of a Communist wheel—I was hostess to whites
here for the holidays—and she fears a snub
from the neighborhood club.

The furniture store has ended the stay
of my influenced by Louise Quinze set. It left
me regretting that I couldn’t pay.
The remaining Rococo wall scones are bereft.

My boss has replaced his soft smile with a stare.
His wife says I’ll have to excuse her from any more parties.
That once crowded cupboard is just about bare now.
She says I was trying to use her.

The doctor of aesthetics murmurs complaint. I’ll deflower
my spell for significant form, curb the artistic curve,
he says, if I enter this racial fray—

But had you been here
the power of your African swerve
would have steadied my listing art-lovers’ soiree.

For as soon as he’d seen your symmetrical sheen,
your stately Watusi-like stance,
your contours, as true as the bronze of Benin,
your tread of near Masai war dance,

this dean of aesthetics would have echoed
Picasso before him in praise and conferred
a prized prize. And I would have foiled fictions
like filthy, brute, slum; and spiked
a few racial preference fear wheels
by exhibiting you as my overall goal
to the present daring white dears.

Later, I could have lost furniture, home and been proud,
had I but been able, that day, to dazzle
the guests with how much moon, star, unbowed
true ebony art could display.

But you didn’t come to the party.
So, I stranded the guests and walked the floor
and looked out the windows and watched the door
for a glimpse of your panther-like pace, for
a glimpse of your smoother than panther
and almost as beautifully dark, face.
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