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Cover of Alice Walker's ABSOLUTE TRUTH IN THE GOODNESS OF THE EARTH: NEW POEMS
03.21.03
Arts and Culture:
Poems by Alice Walker
More on This Story:
You Too Can Look, Smell, Dress, Act This Way


You Too Can Look, Smell, Dress, Act This Way

Whenever I notice
advertising
How they can
tuck away your
nipples
&
suck off
your hips
& make you
smell
like nobody
who's ever
lived
I like to think
of Jane Goodall.

Plain Jane
Goodall.

I like
to imagine her
hunkered down
motionless
quiet
observant
of wild chimpanzees
in
the bush.

Her gray hair
tugged
off
her honest
face
—with a rubber
band
I'd bet—

While she studies
the body proud
cousins
looking for clues
about why
we're so
dissatisfied.

Sometimes
a person's name
just
suits
them.

Jane. Nothing
you can do
with Jane
except say it.
Goodall.

Advertising never
seems to reach
Jane. Her hips always appear
to be just
where they always
were. Her breasts
never
strain to declare
themselves.

Each time
she emerges blinking
out of
the mists
she's wearing
the exact
same
white blouse & indifferent
blue skirt.

She never seems
to have heard
of a makeup
that wasn't
character.

If I could
sniff
Jane Goodall
as her friends
the chimpanzees
do
I know
she would smell
just like
her name.

Like no advertiser's
perfume
ever touched
her
No surgeon's
shears
ever trimmed
such ample
integrity.

She would smell
like earth
air, water
ancient forest
&
like no man
was ever
there.

-Alice Walker

Excerpted from ABSOLUTE TRUST IN THE GOODNESS OF THE EARTH by Alice Walker. Copyright (c) 2003 by Alice Walker. Published by arrangement with The Random House Ballantine Trade Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.

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