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  • First High School Yearbook
  • J. Allyn Rosser (bio)

Aunt Darlene sat down with me that June.Fourteen, she said, and still biting your nails!As I flipped the pages of my freshman year,which I’d survived by not talking to anyonewhen not offering gum or being called on,she jerked the ice in her drink, pointingas if identifying species of bird and snake:That one’ll break your heart, dearie;That one’ll break his own neck, justgive him a car, give him one icy bridge.You see this girl’s hair,the way she’s got it curled like sausage?How her chin is lowered slightly?Honey, she’ll rub your nose in her peeif you give her a chance, with a smilelike it’s Sunday and she’s in the choir.What have we here? A banker. Look,look at the coin-slot line of his mouth.He’ll have three wives, eight rotten kids,make millions, never be happy.With her slick, crimson nails and scratchy,done-that voice, she tagged each one,even the seniors I’d only know the siblings of.Oh now this one, count the freckles on her nose,I’ll tell you how many cars she’ll knowthe back of. You better have more sense.Oh, and this looker with the dimples? Trust me,he’ll never get out of town. Failurewritten in the eyebrows.                                                   –What?Watching me hug my knees laughing,she soberly drained her glass. I laughedbecause I knew she was not really thinkingabout them, these kids I would cometo know worse, but about her own people,her lousy lesser-half-and-then-some, her ownlousy life that dumped her here to live with us,and because at the time it just didn’t seem possibleshe could be right. [End Page 83]

J. Allyn Rosser

J. ALLYN ROSSER’s fourth collection of poems, Mimi’s Trapeze, was published in 2014 from the University of Pittsburgh Press. She teaches at Ohio University.



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