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von Althea Romeo-Mark

Brown woman in red dress
lounges under gaze of sun god
legs stretch across green bench
during fickle spring.

Her hair is a neglected garden—
the locks of a woman
who mourns the dead,
the locks of a marooned soul,
culture starved, battle scarred.

Is she a lost youth in search of independence?
Is she a souvenir of tropical holiday heat?
Is she a mail-order bride?
A refugee? An escaped domestic slave?

I pray sun god does not blink
for she, lost in a sea of pale faces,
will drown in the cold.

First publication in: Yellow Cedars Blooming: An Anthology of Virgin Islands Writings. ed. Marvin E Williams. Virgin Islands Humanities Council, 1998.
Additional publication: Althea Romeo Mark, If Only the Dust Would Settle, 2009

Althea Romeo-Mark

The silk nightgown she smells,
cautiously caresses,
clings to dry calloused palms.

Jerking away,
she flees
the lingerie department.

Discounts beyond her reach,
her touch, her hands form fists
in frayed pockets.

Sadness rakes her face
as she races down the escalator
to basement bargains.

Crowded bins,
perspiration smells,
last year’s rejects,
brand imitations,
polyester tossed about
are familiar.

Rummaging through
scattered cast offs
a soft silk memory
gloves her hands.

First publication in: Althea Romeo Mark, If Only the Dust Would Settle, 2009.

The Nakedness of New
Althea Romeo-Mark

In this place there are
no monuments to my history,
no familiar signs that give me bearings,
no corner shops where food
can take me on a journey home.

Fresh-faced in an old country,
the new lingo is a gurgle in throats.
Strange words assault my ears,
throw me off balance.

I seek refuge in mother-tongue wherever I find or hear it.
Hunger for my people’s voices has forged odd friendships.
But they have begun to fray and I cling to shreds.

Cold stares gouge an open wound.
Winter’s icy fangs bite deep down.
A “foreigner” is dust in the eye and
many believe I have come to plunder their treasures.

Come, hug the cold away, rock me in your arms,
clothe me in your warmth, tell me everything will be okay
Pull me back from the cliff’s edge.

First publication in: Althea Romeo-Mark, The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books. Volume 5, Number 1. Antigua and Barbuda. 2012

Althea Romeo-MarkBorn in Antigua, West Indies, Althea Romeo-Mark is an educator and writer who grew up in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. She has lived and taught in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, USA, Liberia (1976-1990), London, England (1990-1991), and in Switzerland since 1991. She writes poetry and short stories and has been published in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, USA, England, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Colombia, India, UK, Kenya, Liberia, and Switzerland. Her last poetry collection, If Only the Dust Would Settle, was published in 2009.