How to Wear Drama

For Audre Lorde, For Edith Sitwell


Only the day-moon witches of Dahomey, wearing 

you weighted inside their coiled wrappers of red ankara,  

know how long you held your hands closed between


your thighs, how much pepper of disarray you braved 

in the shade of a devil’s chin while the holding that folds

your throat into your eye is the dark and open purple batik


of bubu and nerve. Now, you are your own concert of rakish 

style, serving skeins of afro puffs entwined with teal trade 

beads, a gigot sleeved sapeuse chanting into the mirror 


to the clap of drum language and the wax-resist of Audre’s 

slant raw silk. If hunters can shoot without missing then you 

must fly without perching and find pleasure where the bronzed 


brilliance of your flesh meets the quickening of needlepoint

and saffron threads. Because the soft-bellied archives of your 

body are barely glimpsed, make sure all your colours greet 

every sun with the armour of cowrie shells, theatre and blood.

Poem by Dzifa Benson, commissioned by Poet in the City, University of Liverpool and Loughborough University as part of Poets in Vogue.