sad news over the weekend, finding out that phebus etienne passed away. all i can say is that every kundiman reading i was at she was there with a warm smile and amazing energy. from what i am hearing from other folks, she was all that and much more.
Maison Poupée by Phebus Etienne
“Au revoir,” my mother whispered to the lemon tree.
To the unfinished second bedroom,
she vowed completion and left Mahotier.
I was five, wishing my world motionless
as the airplanes sunning on the runway,
daydreaming of sleep close to my father’s belly,
between his breathing and my mother’s.
At my aunt’s house, I tried not to leave
footprints on the parlor floor,
stayed away from the porch after sunset
when she covered her boyfriend with perfumed kisses,
but I couldn’t avoid the unbreakable switch. Sundays,
my father visited, but never waited,
if I was next door playing. He’d leave
two silver coins for champagne cola, a promise
for a matinee at the El Dorado. He walked
with me when his women could admire
the holiday lace on my braids. School breaks,
pampered at grandmother’s home, a window
overlooked the cherry tree on a rocky mound.
A large appetite made her laugh, so I ate through summer.
The man who cured his swollen feet with leeches,
who made sure I saw him naked in the outdoor
shower was in my nightmares, but there were
no welts on my skin. When I turned eight,
grandmother gave me a solid house.
Its miniature wooden pieces were scented with shellac.
I imagined us, three, a family in it; mother
at the gate as I crossed the stream
carrying warm bread; father,
under the avocados with a morning cigarette.
Before returning to a room in my mother’s house, I left
the doll house behind, its walls unglued,
arms of one resident missing.
It, too, had been ephemeral, fragile as my first home.