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S E P T E M B E R   1 9 9 8

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by Yusef Komunyakaa

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She's big as a man's fist,
Big as a black-pepper shaker
Filled with gris-gris dust,
Like two fat gladiolus bulbs

Grown into a burst of twilight.
Lumpy & fertile, earthy
& egg-shaped, she's pregnant
With all the bloomy hosannas

Of love-hunger. Beautiful
In a way that forces us to look
At the ground, this squat
Venus in her braided helmet

Is carved from a hunk of limestone
Shaped into a blues singer.
In her big smallness
She makes us kneel.

Yusef Komunyakaa is the author of Neon Vernacular (1993) and Thieves of Paradise (1998). He teaches creative writing at Princeton University.

Copyright © 1998 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; September 1998; Venus of Willendorf; Volume 282, No. 3; page 86.

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