Interpretation of a Poem by Frost

By Thylias Moss b. 1954 Thylias Moss
A young black girl stopped by the woods,
so young she knew only one man: Jim Crow
but she wasn’t allowed to call him Mister.
The woods were his and she respected his boundaries
even in the absence of fence.
Of course she delighted in the filling up
of his woods, she so accustomed to emptiness,
to being taken at face value.
This face, her face eternally the brown
of declining autumn, watches snow inter the grass,
cling to bark making it seem indecisive
about race preference, a fast-to-melt idealism.
With the grass covered, black and white are the only options,
polarity is the only reality; corners aren’t neutral
but are on edge.
She shakes off snow, defiance wasted
on the limited audience of horse.
The snow does not hypnotize her as it wants to,
as the blond sun does in making too many prefer daylight.
She has promises to keep,
the promise that she bear Jim no bastards,
the promise that she ride the horse only as long
as it is willing to accept riders,
the promise that she bear Jim no bastards,
the promise to her face that it not be mistaken as shadow,
and miles to go, more than the distance from Africa to Andover,
more than the distance from black to white
before she sleeps with Jim.

Thylias Moss, "Interpretation of a Poem by Frost" from Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler. Copyright © 1998 by Thylias Moss. Reprinted with the permission of Persea Books.

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Poet Thylias Moss b. 1954

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

 Thylias  Moss

Biography

Thylias Moss’s poetry collections include Tokyo Butter (2006), Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler (1999), Small Congregations: New and Selected Poems (1993), Rainbow Remnants in Rock Bottom Ghetto Sky (1991), At Redbones (1990), Pyramid of Bone (1989), and Hosiery Seams on a Bowlegged Woman (1983). Known for expansive poems full of details ranging from art, history, and laundry detergents to ants and Disney characters, she has . . .

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POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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