Sunday, December 5, 2010

"St. Roach" by Muriel Rukeyser

I am finishing up my last readings for my International Lit class and I thought this was worth sharing. Hope everyone is having a nice weekend and enjoy!
St. Roach

For that I never knew you, I only learned to dread you,
for that I never touched you, they told me you are filth,
they showed me by every action to despise your kind;
for that I saw my people making war on you,
I could not tell you apart, one from another,
for that in childhood I lived in places clear of you,
for that all the people I knew met you by
crushing you, stamping you to death, they poured boiling
water on you, they flushed you down,
for that I could not tell one from another
only that you were dark, fast on your feet, and slender.
Not like me.
For that I did not know your poems
And that I do not know any of your sayings
And that I cannot speak or read your language
And that I do not sing your songs
And that I do not teach our children
to eat your food
or to know your poems
or sing your songs
But we say that you are filthing our food
But that we know you not at all.

Yesterday I looked at one of you for the first time.
you were lighter than the others in color, that was
neither good nor bad.
I was really looking for the first time.
You seemed troubled and witty.

Today I touched one of you for the first time.
You were startled, you ran, you fled away
Fast as a dancer, light, strange and lovely to the touch.
I reach, I touch, I begin to know you.


  1. Wow! I really like this. I'd totally use this in a high school English class.

  2. It's kind of like an us and them thing.

    Are you sure this is about roaches???

  3. Meg: I'm glad you liked it too!

    Mac: No, it's not really about bugs. It's about the way we "other" people and make assumptions based on what we've been told without making the effort to really get to know the people. So yeah, it's an us and them thing in that way.


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