The poem is both tender and sinister, simply told and yet deeply bizarre. It is a poem seemingly about torture, affection, and the afterlife ambiguously titled “Seven Rooms,” and, though we decided not to include it in our upcoming Anniversary issue, I believe it still deserves some attention.
From the Archive
Carlos is not just any worm. Carlos’s immune system is so strong that Moonie can bombard it with legions of aggressive invader organisms, and Carlos fends them off. But what’s truly remarkable about this worm is that while gobbling up intruders like a worthy ninja, it screeches out the famous first bars of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
Aminatu sometimes found comfort in the fact that no one there quite knew her. Their expectation of the things she should have done or could have been was not humiliatingly high. To most who met her, Aminatu was “that young African woman.” That, in its ambiguity, was manageable. So she combined whatever it was to be African with what she was inevitably coming to know as black in America.
Nighttime rubs against windows
Like the same black cat
Who slinked out of language
Punched black-&-blue by fists
In both Europe and the Americas, art was important to African slaves because it offered them the possibility of what I will call a socially transcendental existence; it could be marshaled into everyday life as a condition of survival against the laws that mapped out the place of the black as being outside the framework of modernity…Just as the aesthetic could become a key index in the violence of modernity, it could also provide the subjects of this cruelty with the hallowed place where utopian dreams could be nurtured and secured.