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South Carolina Morning

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Her red dress & hat
   tease the sky’s level-
headed blue. Outside

a country depot,
   she could be a harlot
or saint on Sunday

morning. We know
   Hopper could slant
light till it falls

on our faces. She waits
   for a tall blues singer
whose twelve-string is

hours out of hock,
   for a pullman porter
with a pigskin wallet

bulging with greenbacks,
   who stepped out of Porgy
at intermission. This is

paradise made of pigment
   & tissue, where apples
ripen into rage & lust.

In a quick glance,
   beyond skincolor,
she’s his muse, his wife—

the same curves
   to her stance, the same
breasts beneath summer cloth.


Yusef Komunyakaa, “South Carolina Morning” from Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems. Copyright © 2001 by Yusef Komunyakaa. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.
Source: Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2001)
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South Carolina Morning

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