Family Secrets

Toi Derricotte

They told my cousin Rowena not to marry
Calvin-she was too young, just eighteen,
& he was too dark, too too dark, as if he
had been washed in what we wanted
to wipe off our hands. Besides, he didn't come
from a good family. He said he was going
to be a lawyer, but we didn't quite believe.
The night they eloped to the Gotham Hotel,
the whole house whispered-as if we were ashamed
to tell it to ourselves. My aunt and uncle
rushed down the the Gotham to plead-
we couldn't imagine his hands on her!
Families are conceived in many ways.
The night my cousin Calvin lay
down on her, that idol with its gold skin
broke, & many of the gods we loved
in secret were freed.

Last updated March 11, 2023