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The Body Exquisite: Opal Moore


Opal Moore

fr. Woman, Prophet

(for Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, sculptor, 1890 to 1960)



part 4.


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.

fr. Woman, ProphetOpal Moore
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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. 

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