Cherene Sherrard

Wild Yeast & Kiss and Tell
December 21, 2018 Sherrard Cherene

Wild Yeast

What color is Shakespeare?
To answer I read my son Dunbar.
First, we recite “We Wear the Mask,”
then “When Malindy Sings.”
We pause at the line
f’om de kitchen to de big woods.
When cooking with Malinda
her haintly breath is citrus and clove.
Her hands, rough as wind within,
smooth as pears without, guide me
as I knead and read her receipts aloud.
Each line works its alchemy,
solidifies her shade, elevates
the timbre of her voice.
She does not speak the broken tongue
of Paul’s folksy muse.
Penwomanship alone affirms
her education. Not until
the poet delivers Dinah’s arms,
buried elbow-deep in dough,
do I forgive his lyric blasphemy.

Kiss and Tell, or the First Black Bachelorette

She has the skin of a papaya—
a thin translucent brown fissured with lava.
See her—high angled—in Rapunzel’s tower window

a chorus of rats just freed from Hamlin bid:
let down your hair. She can’t. The tracks raised welts.
Every swing of her braid smarts like the lashes

gluing her bedroom eyes wide. They wake her
at the witching hour to ask which one will
receive the rose but she can’t tell them apart.

A producer arrives with scissors and a speculum.
When she resists, a malicious sprite unfurls
a scroll notarized by her own menstrual thumbprint.

Here is when you say I do, he says,
Look at the shotgun, I mean, the camera
You are the network’s most beautifulest thing.

Originally from Los Angeles, Cherene Sherrard is the author of the poetry collection Vixen (Autumn House Press) and a chapbook Mistress, Reclining (Finishing Line Press). A Cave Canem fellow, her poetry has recently appeared in New York Times Magazine, Obsidian III, Verse Daily, Tidal Basin Review, Los Angeles Review, and Prairie Schooner. She is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.