Behind the irises
of every Black woman
you will ever meet,
there resides a Magical Negress.
Sometimes you can just make her out
when she floats to the surface
of a Black woman’s brownbrown eyes,
wearing a red gingham kerchief and an apron,
smelling subtly of something slow-cooked
or deep-fried—she wields a ladle
instead of a wand and with a hand on
one generous, cocked hip,
she tends to smack her lips,
suck her teeth, and tsk-tsk-tsk
before she calls you some combination
of girl or honey or sista or chile.
You enjoy these pet names.
This way it feels like you’re as good as kin
when you ask her what you should do
about your husband, your wife,
your kids, your boss, your golf game,
your STD, or your next deadline.
She knows the way to anywhere.
And as long as you do this, eat that,
stop wearing that, take this, say that,
you’ll be fine, just fine. You can trust her.
The Magical Negress would never
sell you a lie.
Sometimes the Magical Negress
appears as succubus. She is all wet,
pursed lips and large, taut tits and fat ass
and long weave, wears that tight-tight red
or gold slick, doesn’t care
if she’s got big arms or too much
cellulite showing in her thighs.
She is Erzulie. She is Oshun
and her skin glistens with fresh
Vaseline and her pussy
probably smells like pineapples
and baby powder and men lose
their fucking minds whenever she comes
jiggling by. She knows all
the best positions, when to let it out
when to hold it in,
how to keep or steal a man,
or suck one dry,
how to make someone beg
for you to tattoo “Jungle Bunny Wuz Here”
with spiked heels along their spine.
Other times, the Magical Negress
is a conjure-woman that looks
to be about sixteen or sixty.
You’ve never seen her hair
if she keeps it in a head-wrap,
or if you have, it’s in waist-length
box braids or dreadlocks.
She smells of sandalwood
and keeps a sage stick
or a twig of Palo Santo tucked in
her cowry-shell belt.
She can read your cards
tell you the color of your aura,
interpret your dreams,
or tap into any one of your past lives--
this sister’s been here before,
has a way with spirits, herb gardens,
and infants. She don’t make many friends,
knowing a thing too many
about what waits on the other side,
but whatever it is you need (but
would never admit to believing in)--
a poultice, an amulet, or what to do
with some ground-down mandrake,
she’ll light all the right candles
to point your feet down the necessary path.
Often, the Magical Negress
is a wonderful performer.
You love calling upon her to entertain,
to make you forget your own misery,
for she can sing like a seraphim,
sell ice to an Eskimo,
and dance hard and fast,
soul-clap and two-step
like she has twin pythons
undulating inside and around her thighs.
She is a real charmer, the thrumming,
humming pulse of every swaré.
Even wallflowers join her hub
once they feel her rooting around
in their reluctance.
You wish you could
move like her, navigate the world
with that species of sashay.
All finger-wag, goose-neck,
popping gum, and snap-back,
she’s a woman’s woman,
has never had a bad hair day,
worn an out-of-season outfit,
or experienced a mediocre lay.
You feel the Magical Negress
before you see her damn near
levitate, floating through the room
on nothing but lilac pheromones
and a djembe’s 6/8 beat.
Sometimes the Magical Negress
shows up in an Afro or cornrows
toting an AK-47.
She don’t suffer no mess.
She is angry. So angry.
But she smiles wide, wishing
you the very best while hiding
razor-blades beneath her tongue,
just behind her teeth.
She knows every trapdoor route
to “don’t make me act my color.”
She smokes Black & Milds,
can drink bourbon straight,
and if need be, will bail you out
of whatever trouble
you find yourself in
with a stack of hundreds
sewn into a mattress.
The Magical Negress is the
homeliest of home-girls
but whenever somebody starts
some shit, you can count on her
to finish it.
No matter which face
she wears, she’s never far.
Oh, sister girl, honeychile,
if you believe in her enough,
she will make an entrance
in one of these skins
depending on the need.
She's always there,
waiting to be called upon
in every Black woman, be she
teacher, assistant, server,
poet or president’s wife,
keeps a little something
of the Magical Negress
in the back-pocket of her gaze
just in case at all times.