Geoffrey Philp’s ‘Erzulie’s Daughter’

Erzulie’s Daughter
Geoffrey Philp
It began with the usual insults
about her nose and hips,
and the belief that her true-true mother
lived on a coral island protected
by sunken galleys and man-o-wars.
These fantasies,
her therapists said, were drawing her
toward a different future
than her parents had wished for
when they punished her
for not reading the books they’d studied,
and sent her away on Easter egg hunts
dressed in starched, pink dresses, white bonnets,
and blue bows in each braid of her stubborn hair.
And when she began cutting her wrists,
arms, legs, and belly, her parents
agreed with the psychiatrists
to the prescriptions of pills, potions,
and poisons to keep her grounded in this life.
But then, the scabs became scars became scales,
her hair grew wild and untamed,
and a garden of yellows, blues, and reds sprouted
on her arms, legs, and back –
her ears and lips studded with gold –
and almost overnight she changed into something
she had always resembled in her own dreams,
in the mirror of her mother –
something beautiful and fearsome.
Geoffrey Philp is the author of a children’s book, Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories; a novel, Benjamin, My Son; a collection of short stories, Uncle Obadiah and the Alien, and five poetry collections, including Exodus and Other Poems, Florida Bound, hurricane center, xango music, and Twelve Poems and A Story for Christmas. Who’s Your Daddy?: And Other Stories was published by Peepal Tree Press in 2009. Geoffrey lives in Miami, Florida.
Read Rethabile Masilo’s interview with Geoffrey at Poéfrika.
Visit Geoffrey’s blog.

9 thoughts on “Geoffrey Philp’s ‘Erzulie’s Daughter’

  1. Geoffrey Philp

    Thanks, Michelle!

    “Erzulie’s Daughter” is taken from my latest collection, DUB WISE. As soon as it is published by Peepal Tree Press, which should be in Spring 2010, I’ll let you know.


  2. Julie

    Oh!! This is so powerful. It gives me goosebumps. Literally. I love the last line so much. I love it all. Thank you!!

  3. Christine

    Yes, I’ve read it before too, and loved it, very strong. I look forward to the book coming out.

    BTW, the girl in this poem reminds me of some of your characters, Michelle, in her own unique way.

  4. upinvermont

    Thanks for posting this Michelle. A powerful poem! About half way through, I began thinking to myself – “Oh, jeez, here we go again. Yet another poem about feminine angst.” But the poet really turned it around into something unexpected and powerful. I’ll be happy to look for more from this poet.

    Without drawing comparisons, it reminded me of a poem I wrote a long time ago – <a href=" “>The Ghost at High Tide. I wrote the poem when I was just starting out. Hopefully, the link will work.

  5. Susan Richardson

    Oh, what a stunning poem. Looking forward to ‘Dub Wise’ in Spring 2010!

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