The Body Exquisite: Opal Moore
fr. Woman, Prophet
(for Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, sculptor, 1890 to 1960)
this dream of art called hunger
is not for woman, say the gods
woman equipped for feeding every mouth
but her own, every soul but her own soul
this truth is from the first fruit
a proffered poison caught in a woman’s teeth
puts her nature to sleep for have you ever seen a woman
suck her own breast? horrible, this milk
on her breath! appalling, the awkward pose
self-sustenance demands. call it Art, but
a sculptor needs the pity of the gods, or else
he perishes pining for a stone.
but children are a woman’s art,
are they not better than what Pygmalion made?
these are the verities we live by, postcards sent in lightning
saved on tablets still warm to touch.
cross your breasts, beg mercy, a passing over—Lord,
don’t afflict our daughters with a madness!
bless them to be made, mental maidens
and dutiful as stone love their makers.
Opal Moore is an Atlanta-based writer. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in anthologies and journals, including The Boston Review; Callaloo; Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry; Honey, Hush! An Anthology of African American Women’s Humor, and 44 on 44: African American Writers on the Election of Barack Obama. “Woman, Prophet” appears in the Notre Dame Review, #26, 2008.