Wednesday Feb 28

CherisePollard Cherise A. Pollard is an Associate Professor of English at West Chester University of Pennsylvania where she teaches African American Literature, Composition, and Creative Writing.  A Cave Canem Fellow, Pollard attended the workshop/retreat for African American poets from 1997-1999. Her poetry has appeared in several journals, including 5 AMAfrican American Review and Poem Memoir Story.  In 2006, Pollard was awarded a grant from the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund to support research towards the completion of her first poetry manuscript.

Sweetness and the Light Girl, 1938
for Romaine E. Pollard
Will thinks I don’t know a thing
about beauty, thinks I don’t care
about those things, thinks he is teaching
me something when he comes over
with those books. Sometimes,
he reads those tight, white lines
to me. He says their beauty is masterful,
universal, but I don’t hear our rhythms
in those rhymes. He thinks I don’t know
beauty, but I’ve listened to my mother
humming in the morning; I’ve seen sunlight
slice through depression glass; I’ve felt
a sand tart melting on my tongue;
I’ve heard the mill moaning
into the deep, black night.
Steel Will, 1942
for William S. Pollard
I enter those death pits everyday,
work steel through fire. I swear
the heat hardens my bones.
The air burns my lungs
brown, my blood runs
hot as liquid ore.
Tonight, I will sit a spell
with the light girl, ask her
if I can touch
her soft brown curls.
She’ll bring me lemonade,
I made it myself, she’ll say,
as if crushing the bitter
flesh deep into sugar
is work. She knows nothing
about the way slag moves,
nothing about the heat
that rolls deep within my veins.
Leaving Bethlehem Steel, 1947
for William S. Pollard
Weary, he takes the hill in big steps,
his work boots grip worn brick.
This walk is best in spring
when nights are cold,
ice is distant, and the hills are quiet.
Then, he can recall the poems
he memorized by candlelight
in the upper room. As of late,
he’s been taken by Frost’s
measured ruminations. At top of the hill,
he thinks of the road not taken,
yearns for another path.
His pace quickens, but he is not in a hurry
to get home. There, he cannot escape
his hunger; it rises from the spine
of every master work he reads.
Remembering gorgeous turns,
he sits on his father’s porch, takes off his boots,
wonders if he will ever work with words
in the daytime. If he will ever read his work
to anyone but his moonlit reflection,
if he will ever live a life worth writing.