The Sunday Poem: Iain Haley Pollock





Child of the Sun


Great Great Aunt Aida
trained her lapdog
to attack dark-skinned men.
A shake of her high-yaller head
and a suck on her ivory teeth,
and the Scottish terrier slipped
through the fence pickets
to nip at a tar baby’s ankles.

Somewhere in her heaven,
Aunt Aida fusses today:
the lightest Haley yet,
naked to the waist
in a plastic lawn chair,
I’m a line cook browning
limbs in a skillet’s thick oil,
a tanner of calf hide
curing skin in the sun.

Aida dreamed the family
would fade into a whiteness
of table manners and book learning,
and with me she came close.
But Mom must have eaten
a pig’s foot when she was pregnant,
or dialed up the volume on those
Aretha records. Or I took it too hard,
that time in the grocery store

when a woman confused Mom
for my nanny–I bronze in the yard
all afternoon, hoping to blind
my eyes with scales and molt
like a sidewinder, to leave behind
a trail of skin, brittle, flaking, and white,
cracking and split in the sun.






About Iain Haley Pollock

(Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

Iain Haley Pollock’s first collection of poems, Spit Back a Boy, won the 2010 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. He lives in Philadelphia and teaches at Springside Chesnut Hill Academy, where he is the Cyrus H. Nathan ’30 Distinguished Faculty Chair for English.

In the January/February 2012 issue of Poet’s and Writers, Pollock says that he finds inspiration for his work from “Stories of family, friends, and neighbors; the high murder rate in Philadelphia; the early Chicago electric blues; the Catholic Mass; the endurance of slavery; autumn; the jazz of Miles Davis and Charles Mingus; Jewish mourning rituals; the painter Barkley Hendricks; the trees on the Schuylkill River walk and at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy; Philadelphians’ eccentricities; lake-effect snow; and, of course, the beautiful woman with whom I live.”

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“Child of the Sun” © Iain Haley Pollock. The poem appears in Pollock’s debut collection Spit Back a Boy and was reprinted with permission from the author.


By | 2016-11-11T21:53:32+00:00 12.30.11|The Sunday Poem, Words|1 Comment

About the Author:

I'm a writer, photographer, and the creator of Gwarlingo, a crowd-funded arts & culture journal that covers contemporary art, music, books, film, and the creative process. I’ve spent nearly 20 years as an arts enabler, helping thousands of successful artists of all disciplines and working to make the arts more accessible. From 1999-2012 I worked at The MacDowell Colony, the nation’s oldest artist colony, but I’ve also done time at an arts magazine, a library, and an art museum in Atlanta. For two years I cared for injured eagles, hawks, and owls at a raptor rehabilitation center in Vermont. In May of 2012 I left MacDowell to pursue writing, speaking, consulting, and creative projects full-time. (You can check out my recent projects here.) I’ve appeared as an arts and culture commentator on New Hampshire Public Radio, served as the judge for A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Orlando Literary Prize, and received fellowships from the Hambidge Center and Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts. My writing and photography have appeared in RISD XYZ magazine, 2Paragraphs, Psychology Today, Born Journal, and other publications. I offer one-on-one coaching sessions, group workshops, and speak to businesses, arts groups, and students about overcoming the psychological and practical barriers to producing your best work. (Read more here .) If you'd like to work with me one-on-one or hire me to speak at your school, business, or organization, please contact me at michelle (at) gwarlingo (dot) com. -

One Comment

  1. Tammy January 1, 2012 at 7:23 am

    This poem was arresting, as though time paused briefly as I read it. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about identity and the differences in the identities we claim for ourselves and those that others would choose for us, and it was as though this poem chose me this morning. Thank you!

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