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Callaloo 25.2 (2002) 416
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They placed his staff on the altar with her other suitors'. Overnight, his grew lilies.
I have become this thing, there in my soft spot, at
the middle, where I felt tenderness begin to thrill, to
settle & deepen like warm water, there,
instead, I grow this jasper, beak, which pokes
out rudely. Am I a woman riding a donkey? What
do I feel in my hands like a weighted snake,
a full wooly sock? To be
charged with a woman's
rapture? I steady myself on a wobble, this staff
Toi Derricotte, a professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, has published four books of poems and a memoir, The Black Notebooks, which received the 1998 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and became a New York Times Notable Book. Tender, her most recent book of poems, won the 1998 Paterson Poetry Prize. She is a co-founder of Cave Canem, the historic workshop/retreat for African American poets.