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  • Family Soil
  • Phebus Etienne (bio)

The road to Mahotier was no longer narrow and tranquil, but paved, crowded with mopeds and Toyotas—only one speckled stallion, two ebony mules. Ceremonial drums I had heard before around midnight now banged at noon. Christians who dabbled in voodoo could speak to Papa Legba and Jesus Christ on the same day. Maybe I had imagined the cotton growing wild along the dirt path and the meadow behind the house where the wildflowers sheltered snakes. But the calabash was there, heavy with its fruit. I wandered through rooms, stroking walls. In the kitchen where pudding had baked on coals, my five-year-old self screamed when hot molasses spilled on my forehead. Saltfish and boiled plantains flavored the yard and I named the trees, kalbas, lamvéritab, zanman, choublac. Outside of my mother's gate, the stream dried to a bed of stone. With my head bent back as far as it could, I drank from the coconut the caretaker picked for me. At least this juice had stayed sweet.

Phebus Etienne

Phebus Etienne (1966-2007) was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and grew up in East Orange, New Jersey. She graduated from Rider University and received the MFA in creative writing from New York University. Before she passed in 2007, some of her poems had appeared in The Butterfly's Way: Voices from the Haitian Diaspora in the United States, Crab Orchard Review, Poet Lore, Mudfish, Caribbean Writer, Beacon Best of 2000, Callaloo, Making Callaloo: 25 Years of Black Literature, and other periodicals and anthologies.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6512
Print ISSN
0161-2492
Pages
p. 970
Launched on MUSE
2008-03-19
Open Access
No
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