My West African Grandmother By Patti Ross

My West African Grandmother

I hope to go to Senegal
To see Lac Rose
A pink tarn of salt
Sun beaten and gummy.

Lingering shore side I watch
My guide Ahmed rub Shea butter
Over his full body, gliding into the sticky mere.
The everyday work of the poor.
Salt catchers!

I am reminded how grandma sifted
boiled dough into a small pot of butter
preparation for the salty bean broth.

I should go to Goree Island.
Visit the Maison des Esclaves and
See the white sand beaches, the palm trees
Contrasting the wails that must have been
From a door swinging solely one way.

I must go to Bargny and watch
Mother Fatou,
Smoke the fish in small concrete tombs
Filled with fire and ash daily,
The air heavy and grave on her lungs.

They are replacing the tombs now
Furnaces, modern not aged
No smoke, no ash.
Will the Thieboudienne taste the same?
Jollof rice and fish with no tang of smoke?

I want to meet my grandmother,
Who has aged and is dying?
Her salty bean broth
the smell of smoked fish
a family heirloom.
I hope to go to Senegal

By Patti Ross


Patti Ross graduated from Washington, DC’s Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts and The American University. After graduation, she had a brief career in the arts and several of her journalist pieces were published in the Washington Times and the Rural America newspapers. Patti has rediscovered her love of writing and is sharing her voice as the spoken word artist “little pi.” Her debut chapbook, St. Paul Street Provocations, will be released in 2021 by Yellow Arrow Publishing. She currently serves on the Board for the Maryland Writers Association, as well as several other non-profit organizations in the Baltimore region. Patti lives in Ellicott City, MD. You can follow her blog at: and

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