I’d pray for James Brown to dance on American
Bandstand. He always offered me a new America:
someone not blond, blue-eyed, someone shaking
the walls of Jericho with his confident gyrations.
My prayers were translated by some distant power
who I needed to defy to gain muscle tone, earn
respectful scars and fete as my dearest enemy who
would become addicted to me. James was a sex
machine who was the opposite of a martyr and I’d
dance along with him in my living room—suddenly
fluent in the body’s truths, the ones hidden in my
bones. Soul music took the house apart, nail by
nail as I unlearned what school taught me about
the oversoul. To be possessed is to be unowned.
© Rane Arroyo