In Ham­burg with The Ne­gro Avenged On Men­zel’s Ate­lier­wand In Madrid with Pi­casso’s Guer­nica

“like a tan­ta­liz­ing will-o’-the-wisp, mad­den­ing and mis­lead­ing the head­less host . . .” —W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

The Iowa Review - - CONTENTS - Shaina Monet

the ac­tor, when he sees Füssli’s paint­ing in his mind for the sec­ond time, thinks— yo body so black, ya mama can’t see ya

face. the woman clutch­ing this semi­cen­tered and black­ened male fig­ure first stands out for the ac­tor

due to her yel­low-brown skin.

the mo­ment be­fore—a preter­nat­u­ral echo voic­ing the vi­brato and dis­tor­tion of two near­ing white men—jars him slightly

from the Avenged Ne­gro. the mulâtresse in her white dress and her un­furled, black hair long in the wind. al­most blacker, the ac­tor

notes, than the Ne­gro’s blue-black skin. the dis­armed torso of the Avenged dis­ap­pears into the whip­ping

storm, as her one, red­dish arm reaches and slaps a cackle of light­ning. the left cor­ner paints the sug­ges­tion of a body

of wa­ter—just as the ac­tor fi­nally no­tices the third fig­ure, a darker brown on­looker. hooded, she ap­pears with red, vagi­nal lips—

right of their feet—re­lo­cat­ing time and the plateau, where these three fig­ures find them­selves

thrust upon. Füssli’s storm is a headache in the ac­tor’s mind, a boul­der ren­der­ing— a Black dis­ap­pear­ing—nearly head­less

and out of sight.

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