The Condoleezza Suite [Excerpt]

Nikky Finney

Concerto no. 7: Condoleezza {working out} at the Watergate
Condoleezza rises at four,
stepping on the treadmill.
Her long fingers brace the two slim handles
of accommodating steel.
She steadies her sleepy legs for the long day ahead.
She doesn't get very far.
Her knees buckle wanting back
last night's dream.
                                 [dream #9]
She is fifteen and leaning forward from the bench,
playing Mozart's piano concerto in D minor, alone,
before the gawking, disbelieving, applauding crowd.
                                 not [dream #2]
She is nine, and not in the church that explodes into dust,
the heart pine floor giving way beneath her friend Denise,
rocketing her up into the air like a jack-in-the-box
of a Black girl, wrapped in a Dixie cross.
She ups the speed on the treadmill, remembering,
she has to be three times as good.
Don't mix up your dreams Condi.
She runs faster, back to the right, finally hitting her stride.
Mozart returns to her side.
She is fifteen again, all smiles, and relocated
to the peaks of the Rocky Mountains,
where she and the Steinway
are the only Black people in the room.
From Head Off & Split by Nikky Finney. Copyright © 2011 by Nikky Finney. Reprinted with permission from TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Cattails by Nikky Finney
One woman drives across five states just to see her
Heirloom by Nikky Finney
Sundown, the day nearly eaten away
Left by Nikky Finney
The woman with cheerleading legs

Further Reading

Politics and Patriotism
Howl, Parts I & II
by Allen Ginsberg
by James Monroe Whitfield
by Claude McKay
by Robert Creeley
American History
by Michael S. Harper
American Names
by Stephen Vincent Benét
Bomb Crater Sky
by Lam Thi My Da
Dear George Bush
by Kristin Prevallet
December 2, 2002
by Juliana Spahr
Delicate Cluster
by Walt Whitman
by Juan Felipe Herrera
Election Day, November, 1884
by Walt Whitman
Election Year
by Donald Revell
Exquisite Candidate
by Denise Duhamel
Exquisite Politics
by Denise Duhamel
Fellini in Purgatory
by Jean Valentine
Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind
by Carl Sandburg
How We Did It
by Muriel Rukeyser
I, Too, Sing America
by Langston Hughes
In a Country
by Larry Levis
it: a user’s guide
by Evie Shockley
Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes
Modern Declaration
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds
by Eleanor Lerman
by David Baker
Praise Song for the Day
by Elizabeth Alexander
Thanksgiving Letter from Harry
by Carl Dennis
The Throats of Guantánamo
by Katie Ford
by Walt Whitman
To Roosevelt
by Rubén Darío