My mama never liked a fool,
you don't have the sense
god gave you, she would say whenever her own
prodigies were stupid or slow—
a kind of forgiveness.
There was no fool
like an old fool, those ones
who couldn't think
for knowing, or find wet
in a rainstorm.
And people were of two sorts—
them that will and them
that won't: some people will lose their way
in a revolving door and some folk
couldn't get to where they were going
if you took them there,
her way of burying the hatchet,
a verbal shrug as she rolled up her sleeves:
if you want something done right
you better to do it yourself — her banked angers
taught her exception-to-the-rule children a few things:
we'd better show sense enough
to use the sense god gave us.
Her soldiering shoulders would be eternally
grieved if she ever spied us spinning
in somebody's revolving door.
Little lectures lobbed with a lift of the chin
over the shoulder at us girls cosy in that small
bright kitchen warmed by morning sun and gas
stove burners turned all the way up, framed
in Chicago winter grey. Days,
alert to the faucet drip of sorrows.
Alert to the dream of spring pressing
up beneath the glaze of black ice floured over
with a late April snow, bright dream
of summer and the Good Humour Man and fire flies
and school's out and double dutching on the sidewalk
from sun up to dusk.
Opal Moore is the author of Lot's Daughters (2005). Her fiction and poetry have appeared in journals and anthologies including: The Notre Dame Review, Callaloo, The Connecticut Review, and the video recording, Trouble and Hope: An Anthology of Poets in Performance and Conversation.
Moore's suite of poems, "The Children of Middle Passage," was developed as a performance art project with painter Arturo Lindsay and jazz saxophonist Joe Jennings. The performance is discussed in Noplaceness: Art in a Post-Urban Landscape (2011), essays by Atlanta art critics Cinque Hicks, et. al.
Moore is an Associate Professor of English teaching fiction and poetry writing, and African American literature at Spelman College. She is a Fulbright Scholar, a Cave Canem Fellow, a Dupont Scholar, and Bellagio Fellow. She served as a 2008 McEvers Chair in Creative Writing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her essay on 20th century African American poetry is included in the Cambridge History of African American Literature (2011).