Desdemona's fire: poems by Ruth Ellen Kocher

By Ruth Ellen Kocher

This can be the writer s first ebook and winner of the 1999 Naomi lengthy Madgett Poetry Award. whereas miscegenation has consistently been extra part of American background than many are looking to admit, Desdemona s fireplace trips via this usually forbidden panorama in poems which are occasionally painfully poignant, but clean of their imagery and aspect.

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Example text

If I wait long enough, anything may wash up onto the shore. The old men who live here become obsessed, every day checking beach deposits, lugging each piece of junk up the hang of the beach into backyard piles of sea salvage. I have their same need to bring things back to my porch in summer, sealed in jars, lids punctured so I hear the last spasms of small life flick glass. These men take their answers from the sea as I wait, belly up, Page 37 beached like the fish in their deaths, wait for the day to have me stay or go, dress or sleep, call my name.

Women become The cities, children become the fields And men in waves become the sea. Wallace Stevens I. First time I saw another brown face: Aunt Janie's farm. She rents it and the workers come up from the South, slow moving sun in the limbs, to pick the landlord's fields, pick the landlord's tomatoes while all their children stare, wondering why, why this girl like them dirty at the knees and ashy nappy headed sits in the yard and they lay their bellies in a row snaked outside the fence, a row of soybean, row of corn watching me swing.

You call it Father. Everywhere, your hair is deep, black and woolly thick.  Long plaits woven by your grandmother's hands.  Yellow girl, your eyes are amber fish scales, your skin, red clay but deeper brown.  Beige is your home.  Go home. Long days bring the dusk into your room, right to your feet.  Nigger girl, who are you?  Here is your story. The moment their hands touched you came into being.  Wandering.  Taste the tin electric tinge seizing your tongue, the sharp gusts filling and leaving your lungs.

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