body/s in question excerpts

The following are excerpts from the script for the choreopoem. This material has been shared only for the purposes of viewing work samples.

© ALISON HALL KIBBE, 2017. No part of this site,, may be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without the permission of the copyright owner.

This body

Este cuerpo?

This body 

This body contains questions

pregnant pauses

quizzical stares


This body contains water

routes of travel

deep currents

storms and waves

bodies sinking to the bottom


This body contains maps

borders cut across the skin

routes of trade, conquista, escape


This body never seems to be enough


This body has no accent from

North Carolina “Hey Y’all”

Jamaica “Ya mon, we be irie right?

Cuba “Asere, que bolá?”


This body has learned through generations

that perhaps

it is better

if your tongue 

does not tie you to one place

you are of places


This body trains her tongue and lips to speak in languages

searching for her voice in



Español - El idioma nativo de su abuelo

forever trying to expat the accent that marks her as foreigner

as someone who doesn’t belong


This body trains her hips to move, her ass to shake, and her feet to step

looking for a dance that can speak

tells the stories that her skin and eyes hide


This body never seems to be enough


This body is carried on oceans of questions


in question

“How many generations does belonging last?”

“Where’s the black in you?”

“But how black is your mom?”

“Ella es negra de verdad? O Mulata?”

“Exactly how black are you? 1/4 black and 1/8 latina?”

“What box do you check?” 

“Pero donde fue la negra? Yo no la veo”

“How many generations does belonging last?”


You don’t believe me

so I pull out a photo.

better yet a map

filled with arrows

routes of migration

the places that 

this skin carries.


passing for a dream

This body

Could pass for a dream

The dream

blue eyes. Skin that can pass for white

translucent, without the help of milk baths


a dream dreamed in a world formed by the white power of sugar

tall tall grass

the roots suck the sweetness out of the ground

the machete swoosh sucks the breeze out of the air.


dreamed in places where skin colors are named by the multitude of combinations that the cash crops produce

cafe con leche

leche con cafe



brown sugar


The more refined the sugar, the whiter it is, the higher the price the closer to gold

the original treasure that they sought in this “New World”


And this dream grew out of the nightmare that was reality

In which, darker, meant death

dark bodies working until death amongst the tall tall cane.

the roots sucking the sweetness out of their life


They mixed the cream with the coffee

condensed milk in a can

more sugar, sweeter, better

to cover the beautiful complex bitter of coffee


One of the most complex tastes known to human palates

Did you know that scientists still cannot explain how the taste of coffee works on our tongues?

We can’t explain how the flavors engage our senses

just like we can’t explain how our ancestors survived, created, thrived

in the midst of centuries of crazy


but dreams were dreamed

and nightmares lived

and generations born and raised

and generations born and raised

and generations born and raised


transplanted, bearing new fruit

cycles of migration

looking for something more

Europeans arrive in the Americas

Africans are brought to the Caribbean fields

The Tainos and the Caribs resist, flee, perish

The English, Spanish, French, Scottish, and Irish become Creoles,

owners of other humans

Resistance is always, revolutions are fought, independences won, and sovereignty challenged


The promise of a canal pulls two of my great-great grandmothers from Jamaica to work in Panama

The sweetness of a sugar boom attracts my great grandmother Hilda Parchment Brown to Cuba from Jamaica

A wave of blanquimento brings my great grandfather Pancho from the Canary Islands to Cuba

My grandfather Francisco is born in Cuba

Hilda wins the lottery and brings her family to Jamaica

Francisco meets Daphne

Their first daughter, my mother Diane is born in Jamaica

The family moves from the island of Jamaica to Jamaica, Queens, New York

Diane grows into a woman the color of cafe con leche, she meets my father David, an ivory skinned man shaped in Cleveland, the center of the country.

They have three children the color of cream on the border of Texas and Mexico.

The raise their children in North Carolina. The South.


The youngest daughter, rubia rubia

blue eyes

skin that can pass for white

translucent, without the help of milk baths


Is this the dream?


Ancestors, when I was born and appeared white, were you happy?

Mom, did you know that my light skin and blue eyes would protect me from forces even stronger than your Supermother powers?

Did you know that a name like Alison Hall Kibbe, when printed at the top of a resume, meant it would always be read?


Who dreamed this dream?

Did you want to protect me from what you knew?

From everything that came before me?


I don’t want to pass for this dream

I don’t want to pass


these women

The women in my mother's line

of which I am one

have moved away from their mother’s

to find something new

encountering the world


to make a new home

I come from people who keep moving

who carry their world


bags and baskets


Nuestro corriente corre rápido abajo

The current runs swift downstream

The past

is alway a blur

just behind

colors blurred and borders smudged


big cargo boats for crossing into 

the next name

next language

next accent


in the belly of the boat

the sea slaps against our sides


Among the cargo is darkness

except for light bouncing from memory to imagined future


To that place we can only imagine because we haven't yet been there

to that place we can never forget because we can never return


It is stories we hold on to

crafting the past so it makes sense

to us

to them

Our bodies together tell stories that are rather complex 

Copyright Alison Hall Kibbe 2014