When Viola Davis Won: A Poem

by Ajanae Dawkins

When Viola Davis won
every blk girl
bone in my blk girl body danced
the closet of blk girl talent opened
and all the skeletons fell
out on that

When Harriet fell from her
teeth all brown beauty; all clawed freedom
and world on her back
and tremble in her throat
every blk girl song I knew
found my voice

When Viola won
I watched her speech 9 times
All day, I brought everything to her name
In all my classes. Spanish. Film.
In all my breaks. I am whispering Viola
Like a spell. Like I’m waiting for it
To grant me it’s magic or something
Each time it leaves my mouth
My whole body steadies as if
It were an
This joy will not just
float away

When Viola won
in that moment, there
my desk chair now
a pew, my legs now held with
stockings and my edges
pressed, cause here you are all Sunday morning
glory, so much so that at the end of the speech my
stomach growled like I been praising,
and now, it feel like all this weeks sins are forgiven

Taraji stands and she is the whole congregation

When Viola won
I thought of all of the hunting
they’ve done
how we been prey
saw her on stage and swore
there was a rifle in her mouth
and I watched her blow
the bullets back
or suck them out one by one
bet the whole world was wondering how her body make
gun powder from nothing
how she don’t suffer from their lead or poison
while her tongue become a trigger
while her body reverse the corpse

When Viola won
I wanted prime time
with my hair out
my body shook
between my mommas
the comb raking from her hand through
my hair
and all the shed gathering like leaves
I wanted to hear about the hooch and flame
how even when we set our own house on
fire they deny the deed
I wanted the magic of transparency
the glory of being undone
all prime time
all blk like never before

When Viola Davis won,
I looked at her eyes
two flower bouquets
with petals, drifting from her cheeks
one by one
as if to ask
they love me.
they love me not.
and honey,
they do
they do

Photo: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Ajanae Dawkins is a poet and performance artist dedicated to illustrating the human experiences of Black women through her writing and perfromance. Her most recent project was a one woman show, named Atlantic, that explored violence against the Black female body through the story 276 girls that were kidapped in Nigeria. She is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on a full tuition scholarship for her poetry through OMAI, First Wave.