I felt like re-sharing this (poem) in light of Serena Williams’ 7th Wimbledon win this July (2016). Serena and Venus continue to inspire, the sisters teaming up, the first time in four years to claim the Wimbledon doubles title as well. This poem was written in 2005 on the occasion of a Venus win, her first win as I recall in some time. I am always rooting for Venus, though I love and share this in celebration of them both. It was originally published in 2009 in Mythium: the Journal of Contemporary Literature, a southern African American literary journal edited by Crystal Wilkinson (I remember I discovered her on MySpace where I used to do her online workshops and then when she announced a journal, though I wasn’t a southern African American woman, I submitted). The poem is also now among the previously published poems and stories which can be found in my book Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings. It’s an opportunity to discover or re-discover, as the case may be, the original novella (Dancing Nude in the Moonlight) and writings of mine published in various regional and international literary journals and anthologies.
Like this one:
(On seeing Venus Williams’ 2005 victory at Wimbledon)
I will borrow the Phoenix’s lore,
as, from burnt out dreams,
Venus ascends once more.
In sedate English climes,
the rose that sprouted through cracked Compton courts
defying premature eulogies masked as reports –
which once credited
her “Raw” talent, her power, her newness;
were less enthralled by
her flash, her verve, her defiant otherness:
Playing her game.
Snubbing ‘The Game’.
Rewriting the headlines.
Vanquishing foes to the sidelines.
Game. Set. Match.
The second chapter belonged to the sister act.
Like Pitons besting millennia of hurricanes,
they honoured the family pact.
Glamm’d and beaded, they bedazzled;
Re-made the game,
inspired ‘Venus Envy’, coined “Serena slams”.
Centre court would never be the same.
Starlets blinked quietly
and yet the sky was lit like a Caribbean night;
It’s beauty legendary.
Zena Ashe Gibson
had passed the baton.
A new morning beckoned;
one sister leading, the other second.
But heroines are tested
by life’s unrelenting tempests.
In hovels and mansions,
this is true, wherever one rests.
And stepping unto the green,
one icon stumbled and fell.
The other defied baffled pundits,
drawing deep from the well
they thought long dry.
It was epic really –
not the breezy wins,
but the one eked from adversity.
For it is in this time
that the cliché’d champion-heart proved sublime.
And danced, at battle’s end,
The Venus’ ascent
a daunting portent.