A Small Gold Ottoman

Laura Sobbott Ross is a widely published award-winning poet whose work has appeared in more than 100 literary journals. In addition to four Pushcart Prize nominations, she was a finalist for the Art & Letters Poetry Prize and won the Southern Humanities Auburn Witness Poetry Prize. She has published two chapbooks, A Tiny Hunger and My Mississippi, and a third book, The Graffiti of Pompeii, is scheduled for publication this year.

A Small Gold Ottoman
in memory of my father

I wanted you to put it on
my back so I could turtle
through the room on my
hands and knees like any
child might, my bones full
of frolic despite the weight
of your doctor’s prognosis.

I wanted you to put it on
my back so I could house
our house of grief in a shell
of top-stitched harvest gold
vinyl and upholstery foam,
so I could carry it like a
cartoon character would—
tongue out in concentration,
reptilian clown in blonde
bangs un-acclimating her
blood to the temperature

of the room. Why can’t you
lift it, why can’t you lift it?
I wanted to shout and beat
my fists against your ribs
until you saw me— small
soft body gone awkward
with your displacement, the
sudden paradigm of ceilings
& doors. Your bed, already
a grave in the living room,

as if cancer was just a cruel
un-helmeting, as if the only
point of gravity I needed was
the one in which a small gold
ottoman hung in the balance

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