Autumn 2000


Toi Dericotte



Do I want to look like this? Women
with that playfulness in their faces, not
childish, but elfin, magic, as if they have learned
how to shift the world, slightly, and let it
slide down the ice of its own melting . . . Women
who have been lost but have not
hidden; clear-skinned,
wide-awake, their unmade selves
not genderless, but not fixed. I don't know where
their genitals are. If heart
is the center, do they feel the tug
of longing there? What blossoms?
Where? In the brain? Belly button?
between the thighs? Is the clitoris throbbing?

Toi Derricotte has published four books of poetry, and a memoir, the Black Notebooks, which was a New York Times notable book of the year. Her latest poetry book, Tender, won the Paterson Poetry Prize. She teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Pittsburgh and is co-founder of Cave Canem, the historic first workshop retreat for African American poets.





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