Written 1994


Stevious slaps the steering wheel
in time to a tape of African drums
that pound like fists on the bones between her breasts
and the pulsing music makes her body hum, hum, hum
once before she felt like this
at the Labor Day parade when she was six
the big drum pounded those very same bones
+++ when fire trucks and majorettes from Grapeville came in purple
+++ and their twirler was a man all lean and black
+++ the only man she’d ever seen to twirl a baton
+++ he stopped before her, glistening, and she clapped, clapped, clapped,
till her fingers hurt for his silver stick
his lips like velvet pillows you could kiss
his arms as dark as their best table
so smooth, if she could touch them she’d leave fingerprints
so she wants to twirl like him
and have eyes the color of her skin
+++ like Stevious today, the way sweat slithers down his neck
+++ she thinks, “I wanna trace it, taste it with my tongue
+++ and say his name out loud, Stevious Koza, Stevious Koza,
+++ pronouncing all the places he comes from
+++++ like Soweto, Lesotho, Soweto, Lesotho…

Lyric based on “Stevious” from Julia Kasdorf’s Sleeping Preacher,
published by University of Pittsburgh Press, ©1992, all rights reserved.
Reproduced by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

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