The lady in green claims that someone has taken all of her "stuff" (except her poems and dances). She feels that her "stuff" is hers and nobody else on the "open market" will value her stuff. She describes her stuff: the way she sits with her legs open sometimes, her rhythm, her voice, her talk, her "delicate / leg and whimsical kiss" (64). She wants her arm with the scar and her leg with the flea bite, her calloused feet, her food, her Sun-Ra, and her memories. She describes the burglar of her "stuff "as a man who was faster and more experienced that she was. She derides herself for making too much room for this man who has run off with her stuff, especially because he doesn't even know that he has it. She demands her stuff back and professes that she is the only one who can handle it.
The ladies parrot different excuses and apologies from men. He is sorry because he does not know how she got your number, sorry because he was high, sorry because he is only human, and sorry because he will never be able to love her like she wants him to.
The lady in blue says she is sick of apologies and does not need them anymore. She is tired of collecting excuses. She will put a sign on her door and leave a message by the phone saying that she does not want apologies. He can keep his apologies to soothe his own soul, and she will soothe hers. She won't call him and she won't be nice. Instead, she will scream and shout, break things, reveal all his secrets, and praise her other lovers in detail - but she will not feel bad about any of it.
She tells "you" that she loved you on purpose and allowed herself to be vulnerable. She is not sorry for asking you to provide her with "vulnerability and close talk" in exchange, and she still wants these things. She thinks that next time, he should admit that he's "mean/low-down/triflin/& no count straight out" instead of apologizing just to make her less angry. He should at least enjoy being himself.
All the ladies participate in reciting the next poem, sharing the lines. The lady in red begins, and says it's not that she never loved him, but it has been so many years. Occasionally as one lady speaks, the others chime in with "#7QYG9." The lady in purple explains that it has been many years since they separated, but when they saw each other again, everything felt knew. They held each other, fell into bed, and acted the same. There was never any suspicion of anyone else.
The lady in yellow is making baccalou and invites her friend over for a girls' night. Her friend comes over and they compliment each other. The lady in yellow reflects that DJ is making her so happy. Her friend looks skeptical and says that she saw DJ and Tito hanging out by the bar and looking really friendly. The lady in yellow is shocked because that bar is a gay bar and DJ hates gay people. In fact, she always has to remind him to refrain from harassing them. Her friend smirks and urges the lady in yellow to get tested for AIDS. She protests and says she and DJ have been together for a long time but her friend reminds her that they were apart for awhile. The lady in yellow is upset and insists that her friend is wrong, but agrees to get tested.
The lady in yellow has her blood drawn. When DJ comes home, she doesn't say anything. Instead, they have a lovely afternoon and everything feels the same. Two weeks later, the doctor calls the lady in yellow with her patient number (#7QYG9) to inform her that she is HIV positive. She thinks she will faint. She asks the doctor if she will die, but he says if she takes her meds, she will be fine.
DJ comes home while she is making chicken curry. She tells him she has tested positive for AIDS. He reacts angrily, insisting that he is not a "fucking faggot" (76) and accuses her of cheating on him. She urges him to get tested but he remains livid and throws her to the ground.
She does not know what happened, but when she wakes up she is bleeding and he is gone. She says, "& i was positive / & not positive at all" (78).
In her introduction to the second publication of for colored girls..., Ntozake Shange explains that she wrote "somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff" after hearing women talk about men and life during a dance class in Harlem. She was inspired to write this poem when she saw one of the powerful, feminine dancers jumping higher than the men. She says, it is "not a lament but a fierce declaration of independence." In the poem, the lady in green describes a relationship gone sour and speaks out against the man who has taken a part of her.
The lady in green is bold and persistent, saying "this is a woman's trip & i need my stuff" (63) and "this is mine / ntozake 'her own things'/that's my name / now give me my stuff" (64). She is proud of her flaws and idiosyncrasies, owning her her scars and her calluses. She concedes she may have been a little quick and a little weak in relinquishing that stuff in the first place, but clearly she has learned from those mistakes and is now empowered enough to tell this man to "find yr own things/ and leave this package / of me for my destiny" (65). She ends on a note of self-actualization, realizing "i'm / the only one/ can handle it" (65).
In "sorry," the women detail the various ways in which men let them down and then apologize in a myriad of hollow and disappointing ways. Their apologies are tinged with bitterness, ignorance, and pride; they are not real apologies; these men blame the women for their own mistakes and their apologies are accompanied by insult and injury. The women are empowered in this poem as they are in the previous one, and they do not need men to make themselves feel valuable. The lady in blue concludes, "letta sorry soothe yr soul/ i'm gonna soothe mine" (67) She does not have any regrets, nor does she feel bad about herself. She does not need his empty apologies. She also still believes that she deserves a man who will be vulnerable and loves her like she wants him to.
"Positive" is a poem that Shange added to the choreopoem in the 1980s and does not appear in the first printing. It is a tragedy that has a similar tone to "abortion cycle #1" and "a nite with beau willie brown." The lady in yellow takes back her former lover, DJ, who is secretly gay (which is what being on the "dl" means), and finds out that he has infected her with HIV. When she tells DJ the truth and urges him to get tested himself, he shouts out homophobic comments, beats her, and leaves her for good. The woman's initial denial gradually gives way as she realizes the truth about DJ.
At the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s, the media focused heavily on men, leading popular culture to classify it as a "gay man's disease." Here, Shange reveals how in the early years of the epidemic, this homophobia and ignorance led to the perpetuation of the virus. She also illuminates the fact that an HIV positive status is not necessarily a death sentence. The lady in yellow's doctor tells her she will be fine if she takes care of herself properly, emphasizing the difference between being HIV+ and dying of AIDS.