Josephine Baker

February 25, 1993|By Ron Marcus

Ah, the suppleness,

the flexibility of those dazzling arms & legs

that reached out to the world,

an incredibly vivacious body, a Shiva incarnate,

a goof-eyed diva who lived to hear

the joyful response of laughter.

A brilliant defiance . . .

that even though you were viewed

as the world's wishbone,

you would not allow them their smugness

and be pulled apart by the sheer brutality

of their ignorant & mindless fears.

Your smooth color was amber poured into honey

over a most delicate flesh glaze.

You were blessed with the sublime presence

and nearly irresponsible grace

to sing to the concentration camp survivors

of Buchenwald.

But most of all . . .

Your most dazzling features

were those spectacularly expressive, colorblind eyes

that saw only people.

What breathtaking worlds of compassion

were those eyes!

They were like onyx supernovas

exploding into a liquid empathy

as blanketing & comforting

as the night can never be.

And those wondrous eyes could shatter stereotypes

with a calculated, rebellious or loving glance.

You were blessed with enough maternal instinct

to solve the homeless problem all by yourself,

allowing anyone who needed it a place to stay

in the generous shelter of your heart.

You were the proponent of the first rainbow coalition,

adopting nearly a dozen children of various races

simply because no one else wanted them.

You had the pioneering courage to look into

that lifeless toad of racism,

and in your performances of unity & harmonycajoled the black soldiers exiled to the back

to come to the front and sit with their white pawn colleagues.

A born rebel, you fought

against the ultimate scourge,

taking on Hitler's elite corps of disciplined sadists

who were no match for your irresistible charms.

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