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ruffled collar -
made from the
I'd almost forgotten the volumes that we kept
in that solid case of oak catty-cornered
from the sofa, a floral ode to polyester
on which my father sat skimming
hieroglyphic texts, his thumb a hummingbird
hovering above the page's edge.
He'd doze off in the family room,
and I'd use a stool to grab from the upper
shelves, books dense as stone tablets
on a pharaoh's tomb, the ones he skipped
over those afternoons reading aloud
while I jabbed questions into his side.
He fought demons in his sleep,
and I grappled with Lubicz's The Temple in Man,
The Book of the Dead by Budge. I feared
that we were both cut from the same cloth,
he with a monkey on his back, and I,
a junkie for words I could not pronounce;
and so I incanted negative confessions:
I have not cursed the gods. I have not dissembled.
Though we were made from the same cloth,
I have not transgressed. My voice was not loud
as I appealed to the ibis-headed Thoth,
assembled boards into an altar.
I have not transgressed, my voice repeated
in prayer, but when you awoke, Father,
you bent words, usurped the role of deity
to whom I pled. Your hands, still a father's hands,
shook history's shelves to their foundations.
I'd almost forgotten the volumes that we lost.
Poem from Coming Up Hot: Eight New Poets from the
Caribbean, Preface by Kwame Dawes, Peekash Press, US Office,
c/o Akashic Books, New York, 2015
SASSY ROSS was
born in Castries, St.
Lucia, in the
she grew up speaking
a mixture of English
and a French patois.
At ten years old, she
migrated to the USA.
She lives in New York
She began writing
poetry as an
received her MFA in
poetry from New York
University where she
was nominated for a
Ruth Lilly Poetry
Her work has
appeared in and is
forthcoming in Prairie
Caribbean Beat, the
Caribbean Review of
Books, and Calabash:
A Journal of Caribbean
Arts and Letters,
where she formerly
served as the
Sassy Ross...writes from the position of one who is looking
back...to retrieve a sense of home and a geography that she
has left behind and yet retained in herself... For Ross, the
Caribbean is not a place of tender nostalgia. She remembers
conflict, separation, and trauma... [H]er childhood is marked
by the need...to survive.
~ EXCERPT FROM PREFACE BY KWAME DAWES, COMING UP HOT: EIGHT NEW
POETS FROM THE CARIBBEAN, PEEKASH PRESS, NEW YORK & LONDON, 2015.
[T]he purpose of her writing is to make visible what, without
the poem, might never be seen. Her poetry hinges on the
complexity of the family, particularly the experience of being
“brought into the world by one mother, raised by another,
and abandoned by both.” Her work is constantly negotiating
her own geography, striving to maintain a balance between
successions of hyphenated selves: immigrant-native,
~ WINE, CHEESE AND VERSE AT THE YARD, VINEYARD GAZETTE, AUGUST
ST. LUCIA NATIONAL