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2/18/2015

TheSundaysofSatinLegsSmithbyGwendolynBrooks:ThePoetryFoundation

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TheSundaysofSatinLegsSmith
BYGWENDOLYNBROOKS

Inamoratas,withanapprobation,
Bestowedhistitle.Blessedhisinclination.
Hewakes,unwinds,elaborately:acat
Tawny,reluctant,royal.Heisfat
Andfinethismorning.Definite.Reimbursed.
Hewaitsamoment,hedesignshisreign,
Thatnoperformancemaybeplainorvain.
Thenrisesinacleardelirium.
Hesheds,withhispajamas,shabbydays.
Andhisdesertedness,hisintricatefear,the
Postponedresentmentsandtheprimprecautions.
Now,athisbath,wouldyoudenyhimlavender
Ortakeawaythepowerofhispine?
Whatsmellysubstitute,headyaswine,
Wouldyouprovide?lifemustbearomatic.
Theremustbescent,somehowtheremustbesome.
Wouldyouhaveflowersinhislife?suggest
Asters?aReallyGoodgeranium?
Awhitecarnation?wouldyouprescribeaShow
Withthecoldlilies,formalchrysanthemum
Magnificence,poinsettias,andemphatic
Redofprizeroses?mighthishappiest
Alternative(youmuse)be,afterall,
Abitofgentlegardeninthebest
Oftasteandstraighttradition?Maybeso.
Butyouforget,ordidyoueverknow,
Hisheritageofcabbageandpigtails,
Oldintimacywithalleys,garbagepails,
Downinthedeep(butalwaysbeautiful)South
Whererosesblushtheirblithest(itissaid)
AndsweetmagnoliasputChaneltoshame.
No!Hehasnotaflowertohisname.
Exceptafeatherone,forhislapel.
Apartfromthat,ifheshouldthinkofflowers
Itisintermsofdandelionsordeath.
Ah,thereislittlehope.Youmightaswell
Unlessyoucaretosettheworldaboil
Anddoalotofequalizingthings,
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172086

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2/18/2015

TheSundaysofSatinLegsSmithbyGwendolynBrooks:ThePoetryFoundation

Removealittleermine,say,fromkings,
Shakehandswithpaupersandappointthemmen,
Forinstancecertainlyyoumightaswell
Leavehimhislotion,lavenderandoil.
Letusproceed.Letusinspect,together
Withhismeticulousandseriouslove,
Theinnardsofthiscloset.Whichisavault
Whosegloryisnotdiamonds,notpearls,
Notsilverplatewithjustenoughdullshine.
Butwondersuitsinyellowandinwine,
Sarcasticgreenandzebrastripedcobalt.
Withshoulderpaddingthatiswide
Andcockyanddeterminedashispride
Ballooningpantsthattaperofftoends
Scheduledtochokeprecisely.
Herearehats
Likebrightumbrellasandhystericalties
Likenarrowbannersforsomegatheringwar.
Peoplearesoinneed,inneedofhelp.
Peoplewantsomuchthattheydonotknow.
Belowthetinklingtradeoflittlecoins
Thegoldimpulsenotpossibletoshow
Orspend.Promisepiledoverandbetrayed.
Thesekneadedlimbsreceivethekissofsilk.
Thentheyreceivethebraveandbeautiful
Embraceofsomeofthatequivocalwool.
Helooksintohismirror,loveshimself
Theneatcurveheretheangularity
Thatisappropriateatjustitsplace
Thetechniqueofavariegatedgrace.
Hereisallhissculptureandhisart
Andallhisarchitecturaldesign.
Perhapsyouwouldprefertothisafine
Valueofmarble,complicatedstone.
Wouldhavehimthinkwithhorrorofbaroque,
Rococo.Youforgetandyouforget.
Hedancesdownthehotelstepsthatkeep
Remnantsoflastnightshighlifeanddistress.
Asspatoutpurchasedkissesandspilledbeer.
Heswallowssunshinewithasecretyelp.
Passestocoffeeandarollortwo.
Hasbreakfasted.
Out.Soundsabouthimsmear,
Becomeaunit.Hehearsanddoesnothear
Thealarmclockmeddlinginsomebodyssleep
ChildrensgovernedSundayhappiness
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172086

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2/18/2015

TheSundaysofSatinLegsSmithbyGwendolynBrooks:ThePoetryFoundation

Thedrytoneofaplaneawomansoath
Consumptionsspiritlessexpectoration
Anindignantrobinsresolutedonation
Pinchingatrackthroughapathyanddin
RestaurantvendorsweepingandtheL
Thatcomesonlikeaslightlyhorriblethought.
Pictures,too,asusual,areblurred.
Heseesanddoesnotseethebrokenwindows
Hidingtheirshamewithnewsprintlittlegirl
Withribbonsdeckingwornness,littleboy
Wearingthetrouserswiththedecentestpatch,
TohonorSundaywomenontheirway
Fromservice,temperateholinessarranged
Ablyonaskingfacesmenestranged
Frommusicandfromwonderandfromjoy
Butfarfamiliarwiththeguidingawe
Offoodlessness.
Heloiters.
Restaurantvendors
Weep,oroutofthemrollsarestlessglee.
TheLonesomeBlues,theLonglostBlues,IWantA
BigFatMama.Downthesesoreavenues
ComesnoSaintSans,nopiquantelusiveGrieg,
AndnotTschaikovskyswaywardeloquence
AndnottheshapelytenderdriftofBrahms.
Butcouldhelovethem?Sinceamanmustbring
Tomusicwhathismotherspankedhimfor
Whenhewastwo:bitsofforgottenhate,
Devotion:whetherornothismattresshurts:
Thelittledreamhisfatherhumored:thething
Hissisterdidformoney:whatheate
Forbreakfastandfordinnertwentyyears
Agolastautumn:allhisskippeddesserts.
Thepastsofhisancestorsleanagainst
Him.Crowdhim.Fogouthisidentity.
Hundredsofhungersminglewithhisown,
Hundredsofvoicesadvisesodexterously
Hequiteconsidershisreactionshis,
Judgeshewalksmostpowerfullyalone,
Thateverythingissimplywhatitis.
Butmovietimeapproaches,timetoboo
Theheroskiss,andbootheheroine
Whoseivoryandyellowitissin
Forhiseyetoeatof.TheMickeyMouse,
However,isforeveryoneinthehouse.
SquireshisladytodinneratJoesEats.
Hisladyaltersastolegandeye,
Thicknessandheight,suchminorpointsasthese,
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172086

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2/18/2015

TheSundaysofSatinLegsSmithbyGwendolynBrooks:ThePoetryFoundation

FromSundaytoSunday.Butnomatterwhat
Hernameorbodypositivelyshes
InQueenLacestockingswithambitiousheels
Thatstraintokissthecalves,andvividshoes
Frontlessandbackless,Chinesefingernails,
Earrings,threelayersoflipstick,intensehat
Drippingwiththemostvolubleofveils.
Heraffableextremesarelikesweetbombs
Abouthim,whomnomiddlegraceorgood
Couldgratify.Hehadnoeducation
Inquietartsofcompromise.Hewould
Notunderstandyourcounselsoncontrol,nor
Thankyouforyourlatetrouble.
AtJoesEats
Yougetyourfishorchickenonmeatplatters.
Withcoleslaw,macaroni,candiedsweets,
Coffeeandapplepie.Yougooutfull.
(Theendisisntit?allthatreallymatters.)
Andevenandintrepidcome
Thetenderbootsofnighttohome.
Herbodyislikenewbrownbread
UndertheWoolworthmignonette.
Herbodyisahoneybowl
Whosewaitinghoneyisdeepandhot,
Herbodyislikesummerearth,
Receptive,soft,andabsolute...

GwendolynBrooks,TheSundayofSatinLegsSmithfromSelectedPoems.Copyright1963byGwendolynBrooks.ReprintedwiththepermissionoftheEstate
ofGwendolynBrooks.

Source:SelectedPoems(1963)

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172086

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