Sugar Sphinx

On Seeing Kara Walker’s A Subtlety
What to think of your burnt sugar baby
housed in the fleeting heat, eerily free
of color? I sign away my safety,
walk among the bricks. The temporary
Karo “black boys,” resin-made ready mades
melt and sigh beneath broken bone rafters.
Her face is inscrutable, unshaded,
the fine sugar slipping, chasing after
history, creeps between breasts where a girl
stands, puts fingers in a V, a sign for peace.
Her friend takes her photo, their laughter curls
like smoke into air, where the light can’t reach.
Here, I feel most how the past is unseen,
how the human soul refuses to come clean.


Andrea Luttrell received her MFA from NYU, where she served as co-editor-in-chief for Washington Square. She has received a Tin House fellowship to attend the Summer Literary Seminars in Russia. Her work has been published in Painted Bride Quarterly, S/tick, and Stirring. Her poem “Housekeeping” was published as a limited-edition broadside by Saucebox Book Arts. She lives in Texas with her young son.