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
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.”
Check out the Gwarlingo Store for some of my favorite poetry books. Your purchases benefit this site.
“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.