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Photo Tale: Free Spirits
Writer/Model: Jessica Reidy
Photographer: Christine Stoddard
I'm on fire-- like the smoldering gypsy
from paperback novels-- that dusky
maiden in a gold corset who twirls, stamps,
and fucks like a fox, outdoors, all fours,
without Christian modesty. That fiction.
I'm the Romani girl who burns to death
in her bed when Fascists bomb her settlement
shouting, Burn, fucking gypsies!
Maybe it will be in the papers-- a short, ambiguous piece.
Vogue could feature the targeted girls, surviving, swathed three layers
of skirts, blue cotton, yellow cotton, green,
long and heavy to trap their purity, swaying
as they dodge rocks hurled in the streets.
No. Really, it's a fashion shoot. A white super model
exposes her hard, pale belly, wears a red silk Prada scarf
as a shirt. Pink and orange crinoline, glints of gold
hoop earrings, tousled braids--
“Gypsy spirit,” the caption notes.
The Swedish model dances barefoot in a circle
and shakes her tambourine
but no one strikes a match and turns
her steps to ash with gasoline.
I think about the long river of Romani
in my blood, devoured. I think about the cost of “Gypsy,”
not the price tag in fashion rags for whatever fantasy they’re selling--
the coins: banned, segregated, lynched, disfigured clatter in our palms.
I wear the green glass beads my grandmother gave me.
When I wanted to dress my heritage, and I was warned. I was told
about the German ovens, The Great Devouring that yawned
and swallowed half of Europe’s Gypsies, six million Jews, and
the remaining undesired.
I have been pestilence. I have a locust for a heart.
And I can’t help but feel a thrill when a vintage dress
looks like a new spin on my old blood, looks “American Romani.”
An Indian vest, sewn with mirrors, reminds me that’s where
my river began, in the North, with a war, The Great Migration.
I want to celebrate the cloth. I want to wear it
and unsuffer every step.
That’s not how it works. The camps still burn.
The cloth will burn.
The 16-spoke wagon wheel, the chakra that throws
us forward, is inked on my calf. (Good Romani girls cover their legs.)
I am an amalgam, white skin and fire both, and can’t be held
responsible for what I didn’t do.
Flame by flame, the Roma are freed--
Opre Roma. Roma, rise up.
We are the firewood, the sea, we are the salt
and sand, cloth, coin, and cards--
we are none and all of those things; we are smoke, spark, and flint
we take the fire by the mouthful,
I take my locust by the heartful: I am dressed in red.
#Unreal #RomaniHeritage #RomaniPride #RealRomani #RomaniAncestry #EthnicIdentity #Poetry #ThisIsWhoIAm
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8/2/2014 01:56:32 pm
Thanks so much, Cyndi!
7/5/2014 08:50:23 am
so sweet if you allow can do any thing for you...
3/17/2018 02:09:31 pm
That's the problem!You stare at the sea and in order to feel the beauty and be happy about it, you want to make it yours! You see beautiful women and you don't want be happy about the beauty you witness, you want to own it!Such a lame.
3/17/2018 02:22:50 pm
Thanks for sharing your legacy in such a delicate way! I take courage from your work to do it too, although I still cripple into the shadows of futileness. As long as I see artists like you, I keep my aim high!
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