Thylias Moss was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 27, 1954. She earned a B.A. from Oberlin College and an M.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Her books of poetry include Slave Moth: A Narrative in Verse (Persea Books, 2004), Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler (1998), 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). She is the author of a memoir, Tale of a Sky-Blue Dress (1998), and two plays, Talking to Myself (1984) and The Dolls in the Basement (1984). Among her honors are a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Dewar's Profiles Performance Award, a Witter Bynner Award for Poetry, and a Whiting Award. She lives in Michigan.
Lessons from a Mirror
Snow White was nude at her wedding, she's so white the gown seemed to disappear when she put it on. Put me beside her and the proximity is good for a study of chiaroscuro, not much else. Her name aggravates me most, as if I need to be told what's white and what isn't. Judging strictly by appearance there's a future for me forever at her heels, a shadow's constant worship. Is it fair for me to live that way, unable to get off the ground? Turning the tables isn't fair unless they keep turning. Then there's the danger of Russian roulette and my disadvantage: nothing falls from the sky to name me. I am the empty space where the tooth was, that my tongue rushes to fill because I can't stand vacancies. And it's not enough. The penis just fills another gap. And it's not enough. When you look at me, know that more than white is missing.
From Pyramid of Bone by Thylias Moss. Copyright © 1989 by Thylias Moss. Reprinted with permission of the University of Virginia Press. All rights reserved.