The Dark Lady – Michigan Quarterly Review
Yusef Komunyakaa headshot

The Dark Lady

This poem was originally published in the Summer 1999 issue of MQR. It is available via our archives.

The Dark Lady

Nighttime rubs against windows
Like the same black cat
Who slinked out of language
Punched black-&-blue by fists

Of pallor. Did would-be lovers
Cross themselves when you entered
A room? Like a brunette Leda
Clothed in nothing but contradictions,

You were exposed by desire's sharp
Beak. As if words could ferry you
Into an embrace, each syllable
A worm in an apple. Dark Lady,
How did the color of eyes & hair

Mark your tongue? You, naked
As immortality, ambiguous as sea
Salt licking a man's spleen.

Photo Credit: Nancy Crampton

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