“sally speaks to tom about their daughter beyoncé” by Victoria Newton Ford

May 15, 2018

This poem is part of our #BlackLivesMatter special issue, guest-edited by Katrina Otuonye. Read more at our #BlackLivesMatter2018 tag.

sally speaks to tom about their daughter beyoncé

Another white boy has purchased the doll.
For a grand total of $14.61.

          A brand new inflatable black grrl.

Sold. To 3700 Locust Walk.

It costs $3.47 for the shipping & the manhandling.

But it don’t cost nothing to watch the snorting
frat brothers line up in their barnyard living room

while the one with the nice smile
and the nice parents
and the future we all trust
is so nice

injects his real benevolent tongue
between her plastic legs

before ramming her face down
through her synthetic throat
so he can fuck her from behind.

But that’s just Christmas retail therapy, right?

Another white boy has purchased the doll.
Which means, another white boy wakes
the dead for the thousandth time.

Tonight, the ghost of Sally Hemmings emerges at the foot
of my bed searching for her daughter, Beyoncé.

“Take me to what’s left of her body,” she says.

Sally is the color of ocean floor coral,
I think
She must have died this way:
A bleached, naked, unremembered thing.

We walk together in silence.
The redundancy of death and bondage
buried her quiet.

For the past two hundred years,
she has moved like an entire world
that has been starved.

When we get to the house
with the four white pillars
and the white stone,

white boy Jefferson
sits outside this new Monticello,

gnawing on his own white hand
smiling proud, at that American flag
there, in the window

the one that mocks us,
          inflatable black grrls.

Another white boy has purchased the doll
and on the porch tonight, Sally shifts

through piles and piles of trash
frantically searching
for the body of her daughter.

She treats litter like it’s precious,
like it matters,
like it’s worth saving
like every black grrl
who ever got her legs ripped
open like cardboard

and was raped and raped and ra—

then spent the rest
of her life calling it

                    master. president. father
                         of her children.

Tom, help me. I can’t find her, Sally begs.

I can smell the salt swelling in her eyes
that are no longer eyes,

And I can taste the blood pouring
from her vagina that used to be a vagina

But Tom can only hear Sally.
He cannot see her now that she is dead and free.

White boys never really see black grrls.
History never required them to.
Unless they purchase us
unless we are inflatable
unless they can quietly
fuck us and fashion it
into its own kind of puppetry.

Yeah, another white boy has purchased the doll
and after about a week, we all so easily forgot.

But I demand to know what they did with her body:
Is she still being held hostage in the basement of that house?
Did they ship her back and try to get a refund?
Was she worth less used?
Or did they just chuck her in the fucking trash
and think nothing of it?

Tom, what have your sons
done with our daughter?
Sally begs.

“Our daughter?” Tom says.

As if the two words were an abomination,
feces falling from the sky
he’s been made to swallow.

Our daughter?

He plunges his fist farther
and farther down his own throat,
vomits up the language
of all these other dead white folk:

“Sorry. We didn’t mean it.
The doll did not at all resemble
the pop star on the packaging.”

Meanwhile, I smell Sally dying all over again.
Her body that is not a body,
her body that hasn’t been a body
for the past two hundred years.

Sally stares into my eyes with her no eyes,
says with her no mouth,

Another white boy has purchased the doll.
Another white boy has purchased the doll.
Another white boy has purchased the doll.
Another white boy has purchased the doll.

and nobody will ever ever ever protect you black grrl
and none of these white boys will ever ever give a shit.

And isn’t that just so very American.


Victoria Newton FordVictoria Newton Ford is a poet and essayist from the South, currently living in Washington, D.C. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Connotations Press: An Online Artifact, Winter Tangerine, LitHub, Jai-Alai #9, and elsewhere.

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