Except from We Want Our Bodies Back, by jessica Care moore 2020 pp 83 – 88.
(for Debi Thomas and Alicia Hall Moran, after her show “Breaking Ice: The Battle of the Carmens”)
I was pre med. fresh. Stanford.
I was a refined black girl magic.
I was gold, already. Ask my mother,
Janice. I was born gold.
With killer smile &
I was trying desperately to concentrate
I didn’t feel like I could
I don’t want skating to control my life
You gotta make yourself happy.
Maybe your body will just do it
Maybe you will backflip and land on one skate
Puzzle them by doing something that has
Nothing to do with them, scores
How dare you be that unapologetically black. Girl.
They call you a rebel, rebellious.
A trouble maker.
Don’t bring all that honesty to the ice.
Your gotta represent. Pretend those scores are way
Below the mason dixon.
I just want to hear one, “beautiful”
For one brown girl surrounded by all that
I want to hear one, “beautiful”
From one white commentator.
I want my dark lover in the audience to have
a close up, as he admires me and promises
his own gold, if I don’t win.
Now, that’s a love story.
Let’s see it.
Let’s hear it.
How many times have heard this non story
This disappearing this melting of spirit this madness
Oh, yes, that is dark beautiful mother
in the audience. Stage left.
She wants the commentators to applaud Debi’s double
the way they saw the same flawless
double that was a double on Katarina
You see, we must
Contort into something unrealistic, unreachable
Stanford. Stay firm. Study Hard. Don’t fall. Balance.
You can’t be average and brown and girl.
That won’t do.
You must absolutely dominate. Always.
This is not a pretty sport, despite all those pretty dresses.
Ask Mabel Fairbanks.
Scorpion child in 1916 Harlem
Black leather pawn shop skates
Stuffed with cotton.
Turned ponds into city Olympic stadiums
Not allowed inside to skate, not allowed
To practice on public rinks.
Taught in private. She created her own
Ice shows. Coached and taught the next
Ones how to grow & skate alone.
She skated with me
She felt the trauma inside the freedom
The pain with every push away from the edge
I’m skating to Carmen. It’s an Opera.
It’s not like we are wearing the
Same prom dress.
Beautiful. Gorgeous. A Natural Beauty.
She was crowned queen before the bow.
They said/I had/a street smart musicality
Is Katarina not from the streets of East Germany?
Does she not have a street smart musicality?
These are not shell toe Adidas. This is not black top.
this is black ice
I didn’t take Carmen to the East German corner.
This was not a breakdance beat down in a Brooklyn
This is figure skating.
I should feel pretty
good about myself.
Not proud, not invincible, not bad.
She said “not bad.”
I was just okay?
How many triples equals feeling pretty good.
I am on fire.
I am ready to just be a student again.
Become doctor, an intellectual.
My soundtrack, black excellence.