Cecile Rossant

I hope you write your memoir, you said.
Then you made one of those gesture-utterances
which are difficult to remember precisely.

I’ll try to paraphrase – I was leaving the kitchen when you addressed me;
your voice resembled light; your movement was in shadow; your arm bent at the
elbow became a piston thrust.

Don’t leave out the detail, you said;
your provocation had a sordid scent, a perpetuity

that would certainly excite their imagination,
arouse them and hold their
attention long enough
that they’d read the memoir
from beginning to end.

My father’s head pops out from the ground
wearing a manhole cover like a hat
a pale, old head
eyes closed; skin, loose and pink

I’m looking at his eyes with the desire to see you

Looking at me
Lights on – mine too.

Father leans into the pinned down paper, brushes and cups of water ready;
the coloured water falls in sheets down a façade
washes over faces, over cliff and follows blocks

And I, pen in hand,
round the “O”s in bottom
and trace the “E”s in edge.
O was something else before it was an O
E was always an edge
O was something else, a pulse circulating between our bodies, where else
but in bed, supported
on the floor by four rigid metal legs.


Born in New York City, Cecile Rossant worked as an architect in New York and Tokyo before settling in Berlin in 1995. She is the author of the novel Tokyo Bay Traffic (Red Hen Press 2008), a collection of short fiction, About Face (Red Hen Press 2004) and the children’s novel Underground New York (Cornelsen 2009). Her stories have also appeared in Salt Hill, Exberliner, Bordercrossings and an anthology of contemporary fiction, The Crucifix is Down (Red Hen Press 2005).